Tuesday, July 28, 2009

June Good Month for Stimulus

Hey, guess what? The stimulus is starting to work!

Sorry, had to get that out there. Taking off the blinders, Reuters reported that, according to a report released Tuesday by the House of Representatives, the number of jobs created or saved by the $787 billion stimulus package doubled in June from May. According to the report, 49,377 jobs have been "created or sustained" by the end of June.

These jobs included mainly water, highway and public transportation projects.

By investing jobs is such markets, the Obama administration hoped to curtail unemployment and solidify the states' infrastructures. While private sector jobs are still on the downturn, and unemployment has sailed past the President's projected height of 8 percent, the fact that jobs are being created and saved proves the stimulus hasn't been the failure several Republicans (like John Boehner of Ohio) have suggested.

Economic experts agree that unemployment is one of the last factors to bounce back in an economic recovery; even as the recession lessens, unemployment will continue to rise in the short term. Despite Obama's promises, there likely wasn't much he could've done about the unemployment numbers, even with the stimulus.

He was probably better off not promising that at all.

Still, six months into the bill's passage, we're starting to see results. These jobs have to be bid on, which usually takes a few months. Now that jobs are being created, things can start flowing. A lot of these are temporary jobs, but a lot of times, a crew that works on one project will simply move on to another one once it's completed.

Besides, new jobs are new jobs, regardless of what field they're in.

Saved jobs are of equal importance; South Carolina was set to lay off over 1,800 teachers statewide before Gov. Mark Sanford finally accepted his share of the stimulus. That money went directly to keeping those teachers on board.

My own mother has benefitted from this bill. A teacher's assistant in the kindergarten level at Hampton City Schools in Virginia, she was set to be potentially laid off last spring. Once the stimulus bill passed, though, Virginia used some of its share in education in the hopes of keeping staff employed.

The city of Hampton used some of its share to keep from laying off instructional assistants. Boom, no unemployment for my mother. She keeps her job, she keeps her health insurance, she can keep paying the mortgage.

Which, last I checked, is a good thing.

I don't care what anyone says ... a saved job is just as important as a created job. For one thing, saving a job keeps one more person out of unemployment. That institution of the states is stretched to the limit as it is; we don't need to be sending more people into that line.

Democrats have been careful to suggest the stimulus is a two-year process, and that states have yet to receive the full extent of their funds. To truly determine the success of this package, we'll have to wait. If we're better off a year and a half from now, the stimulus worked. If we're not, then it'll be time to think of another plan.

We also don't need a second Obama stimulus.

If I had a hunch, I'd say this stimulus package will succeed. The first package, passed under George W. Bush, did not help -- then again, tax cuts for the wealthy and $600 checks for everyone else don't really stimulate anything. Saving and creating jobs does.

You know what else might stimulate the economy? Health care reform.

I'm just saying ...

UPDATE: It's not stimulus money, but the White House announced on Tuesday $1 billion in grants to Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) to help keep police officers on the streets. Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder made the announcement.

Roughly 4,700 officers will keep their jobs because of these grants. Though not every city or state that asked for aid will receive it, the administration tried to hand out aid in terms of localities facing the worst budget shortfalls and/or the worst crime rates.

Simply put, the money's going to the places that need it the most -- including Philadelphia, Pa., Mobile, Ala., Rochester, N.Y., Baltimore, Md., Salt Lake City, Utah, Huntington, W.Va. and Providence, R.I.

The measure does come up short on its goal, though; COPS wanted to give out enough funds to retain and hire a combined 5,000 officers nationwide. The grants, however, will only help 4,699 officers.

Which is 4,699 officers more than if the grants hadn't been given out at all.

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