This post is a bit different from the usual on The Bivings Report.  But I’m a big believer in transparency in government, and watch with interest what ProPublica, a new non-profit investigative newsroom, is up to.  It’s an important experiment in contemporary journalism.  ProPublica has been keeping tabs on the stimulus funds; yesterday they posted a database of allocations to the 50 states and DC.  You can find it here.  As they asserted, there seems to be little connection between a state’s unemployment rate and the amount of funds it receives.  You can see it by staring at the numbers, but it’s a little easier to catch it when plotted graphically.  Here’s a graph showing per capita fund allocation by unemployment rates.


To reiterate there doesn’t seem to be any relationship between unemployment and per capita funding.  The state with the lowest unemployment, North Dakota at 4.2%, received $534 per head, significantly more than Michigan at $366 per capita and an unemployment rate of 15.2% (the highest of all). 

Alaska stands out all by itself.  It received $1,024 per person which is more than 4 times as much as New Jersey’s allotment of $247 per head (the lowest of all). And their unemployment rates aren’t that different at 8.4% and 9.2% respectively.

So if it’s not unemployment, which would seem a plausibly fair and objective way to divvy up the funds, what criteria or formula was used to allocate these funds?