Monday, June 1, 2009

Stimulus projects bypass hard-hit states

Another wake-up call about why we need a new federal jobs program like the WPA to help areas and regions where there is high unemployment and underemployment. The US economy fails to create enough decent jobs in good times as well as bad, and it consistently fails to help many workers and groups who are structurally unemployed and underemployed.

The next round of stimulus funding should create multi-year, accountable, federally-financed jobs program to address unmet needs for infrastructure repair, environmental restoration, education and human services. The jobs created should be tracked through a National Employment Accounting Office, to report the economic and social benefits of the jobs program back to the American people.

Stimulus projects bypass hard-hit states -
By Brad Heath, USA TODAY, May 27, 2009

"States hit hardest by the recession received only a few of the government's first stimulus contracts, even though the glut of new federal spending was meant to target places where the economic pain has been particularly severe.

Nationwide, federal agencies have awarded nearly $4 billion in contracts to help jump-start the economy since President Obama signed the massive stimulus package in February. But, with few exceptions, that money has not reached states where the unemployment rate is highest, according to a USA TODAY review of contracts disclosed through the Federal Procurement Data System.

In Michigan, for example — where years of economic tumult and a collapsing domestic auto industry have produced the nation's worst unemployment rate — federal agencies have spent about $2 million on stimulus contracts, or 21 cents per person. In Oregon, where unemployment is almost as high, they have spent $2.12 per capita, far less than the nationwide average of nearly $13.

That money 'is needed nowhere more than it is needed in Michigan,' says Leslee Fritz, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Economic Recovery Office, which is coordinating stimulus efforts in that state. She said officials are generally satisfied with the pace of federal aid, but added, 'We certainly feel very intensely the need to move quickly.'"

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