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JOBS - Neary

Chris Neary/MEDILL

A road crew works on a stimulus funded project on the corner of Franklin and Adams in the Loop. 

Beginning the task of counting stimulus jobs

by Chris Neary
Oct 15, 2009

JOBS II - Neary

Chris Neary/MEDILL

A new report begins to tally the number of jobs created by stimulus projects like this one.

If you have ever wondered how many jobs the $787 billion stimulus effort has created, the federal government now has an answer – sort of.

A report released this morning by the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board puts the number of jobs created directly by stimulus contracts at 30,383 nationally. Stimulus contracts created have created 288 jobs in Illinois.

Considering the scope of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, those numbers may seem low.

Cheryl Arvidson at the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board in Washington said that is because the report measures just a fraction of the effect of the stimulus has had on jobs.

"It's important to remember that this is only a small portion of recovery money,” Arvidson said. “This is just the stimulus-funded contracts that have been sent out.”

According to the Coalition for an Accountable Recovery, those contracts only account for between $6 billion to $12 billion of the $356 billion spent on recovery to date. The rest of the money has gone toward grants and loans, tax expenditures and funding entitlements.

Craig Jennings, the senior federal fiscal policy analyst at a group called OMB Watch said the report, which features data gathered from the recipients of contracts, still has value.

"You can see it as being an example of an exercise in government transparency much more than a way to determine where the Recovery Act money is actually going."

The report improves transparency by requiring federal contract recipients to submit information describing how much money they had received and how many jobs it created.

All of those reports have been used to build a map at of every stimulus project in the country. Using the map, anyone can determine if a specific stimulus project that is being reported is actually occurring.

Connie Markiewicz, the assistant chief financial officer and budget manager for the Argonne National Laboratory was responsible for uploading the recipient contract information to the government for the lab. Argonne has received $163 million in stimulus money. Only a small portion of that money has been spent, however, since much of it was received recently.

She said the process was not difficult, but she has doubts about how revealing the information she sent could be. The board asked Argonne to consolidate all its ARRA projects into one report, with a fixed size-limit.

“I think with a consolidated report it's going to be very difficult to figure out what our accomplishments are, simply because it’s an awful lot of technical work to put into 4,000 characters.”