The government's nonpartisan policy body, the Congressional Budget Office, finds that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act raised real GDP between 1.2% and 3.2% in the third quarter of 2009 and reduced unemployment between .3% and .9%. In terms of jobs, between 600,000 and 1.6 million more people had work than would have otherwise been the case without the stimulus.
The CBO weighed in on the debate over the stimulative value of direct spending versus tax cuts. Measured in terms of an output multiplier -- an estimate of total effect on economic activity -- the greatest impact came from federal purchases of goods and services and payments to state and local governments for infrastructure The two combined cost $132 billion. The estimated multipliers range from a low of 1 to a high of 2.5.
The least effective were tax cuts. Various corporate and tax exempt bond provisions worth about $21 billion had an impact that ranged from a low of zero to a high of 0.4. Other low scoring policies included the "fix" to the Alternative Minimum Tax ($70 billion with a high-end multiplier of 0.5)and the extension of the first-time home buyer tax credit ($7 billion with a high-end multiplier of 1).