New data provides the first confirmation that President Barack Obama's economic stimulus plan has so far saved or created more than one million jobs, administration officials said on Friday.
The figures show 650,000 jobs were directly saved or created up until September 30. Since the survey data only accounts for half the spending during that time, officials say the true figure of jobs created is over a million.
Opposition Republicans however accused the president's team of fudging the facts and concocting a "fantasy world" to disguise the failure of the stimulus plan, passed in the first months of Obama's presidency.
Obama has vowed that the economic recovery package would save or create 3.5 million jobs over the next two years.
The statistics were provided by tens of thousands of state and local governments, private firms and universities and detail how a portion of the 787 billion rescue package is being spent up until September 30.
Unemployment remains a key hurdle to sustained recovery, with latest monthly figures in September pushing the jobless rate to a new 26-year high of 9.8 percent with job losses accelerating to 263,000.
Friday's report came a day after government data showed that the US economy had emerged from the deepest recession in decades, but with the White House battling crushing unemployment of just under 10 percent.
The figures "confirm government and private forecaster's estimates that overall Recovery Act spending has created and saved at least one million jobs," an Obama administration official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The numbers apply to jobs directly created with Recovery Act funds, but officials say more jobs are also created indirectly, for instance in the retail sector, when these people spend their wages.
The official release of the figures ignited a new row between the White House and its political foes, with Republicans accusing the Obama team of making up job figures "out of thin air."
"What is quite certain is that since the stimulus passed in February, over 2.6 million American jobs have been lost," the Republican Party said in a statement Friday.
"The Obama administration is either living in a fantasy world or using these reports to have a public argument with the facts.
For the Republicans, "it is clear that President Obama's stimulus has failed our economy and the American people," the statement said.
The government said Thursday that after a year of contraction, the US economy grew at a seasonally adjusted annualized 3.5 percent in the third quarter.
Those figures marked the strongest expansion since the 2007 third quarter, when a home mortgage crisis triggered a global financial crisis that hammered the world economy.
Christina Romer, chair of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, warned that the US unemployment rate is likely to remain "severely elevated" for some time even as the economy recovers from recession.
The recession's impact on employment has been massive, she told a congressional panel, making it hard to recoup lost jobs.