But in the final quarter of 2009, the administration no longer asked recipients whether all of those jobs were actually created or saved by the stimulus money or whether some of those jobs might have existed without the stimulus money.

Instead, it now simply counts all existing jobs paid for with stimulus money as saved jobs, whether or not they would have been lost without the money.

The new, more expansive definition will make it more difficult to isolate the effects of the stimulus law, which is officially called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but should make it easier for states and employers to calculate jobs. But the new definition also means that the new tally of 599,108 jobs reported in the fourth quarter cannot be compared with the earlier figures from 2009. . . . Stung by a storm of criticism this fall after numerous errors in the jobs reports were publicized, the White House released the latest figures quietly. This time there was no news conference, as there was last time, but rather a statement late Saturday night from Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. stating that the stimulus was on track.

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