Stimulus money equaling jobs?

July 14, 2009 4:32:05 AM PDT
Federal stimulus dollars have already been spent in North Carolina. But some ask if the money is really translating to jobs? Many economists said it was too early to judge the success of the stimulus.

"Right now we can largely just guess on what impact the stimulus is having," NC State Economist Professor Mike Walden said.

So far, the state has spent $1.24 billion in stimulus money and another $5 billion is in the works, while the unemployment rate keeps ramping up. It is now at 11.1 percent across North Carolina.

"There should be some accounting after $1.2 billion being spent here," said Tom Fetzer with the NC Republican Party. "About what, if any jobs have been created or what if any jobs have been saved."

According to officials, the DOT uses a loose formula that each million dollars in highway stimulus generates 25 to 30 jobs. But the DOT is not closely tracking the hiring by private contractors on stimulus projects.

"Many of these infrastructure projects are not going to hit the ground until late in 2009 and into 2010," Walden said.

To date, the top three state agencies to get stimulus money is Health and Human Services, mostly for Medicaid expenses, the Department of Public Instruction, and the agency which doles out unemployment insurance checks.

"I think that's precisely a reflection that it looks like the stimulus money is going to expand the scope of government social programs," Fetzer said.

Officials said an accurate job count will not be out until October.

But some in Congress said they now think another round of stimulus, more than the current $787 billion, was needed before then.

"They certainly shouldn't advocate spending any more money in North Carolina from the stimulus package until they get a handle on how many jobs have been created thus far with the $1.2B that's been spent," Fetzer said.

Though North Carolina does not have an estimate on jobs created, the federal government does.

It estimates 150,000 jobs were created or saved around the U.S., but that is down from the original forecast of 600,000 jobs by this summer.


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