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February 2018

How much does it cost to create a job?

David Robalino's picture
Also available in: Español | Français 
A $10 million investment can actually create just a couple hundred direct jobs. / Photo: Nugroho Nurdikiawan Sunjoyo / World Bank (Yogyakarta, Indonesia)

Creating more and better jobs is central to our work at the World Bank and a shared goal for virtually all countries —developed and developing alike. But oftentimes the policy debate turns to the cost and effectiveness of programs and projects in creating jobs.
 
As an example, I recently found myself in the middle of a discussion regarding a development project aimed at creating employment:  one of the reviewers objected given that the cost per job created was too high. “More than $20,000 per job,” he said, comparing it to much lower numbers (between $500 and $3,000 per job) usually associated with active labor market programs such as training, job search assistance, wage subsidies, or public works.
 
But what is the rationale behind these numbers?