October 15th, 2009
04:58 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: First tally on stimulus jobs released

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/03/09/art.construction.jpg caption="The White House has released its first report on job creation since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009"]

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

The White House today unveiled the first hard data on how many jobs the $787 billion recovery act has created.

So far, companies that have received stimulus contracts directly from the federal government have created 30,383 jobs. These firms have been awarded $16 billion in contracts and have actually been paid $2.2 billion.

Stimulus-fueled job creation has become a very controversial issue. The Obama administration has faced blistering attacks by Republicans who contend that the recovery act has failed to live up to its promise to put Americans back to work.

So far, the federal government has made available a total of $256.3 billion in contracts, grants and loans and has paid out $110.7 billion to state and local governments, non-profit agencies and companies. The reports released today were the first in a series that provides a tally of the actual number of jobs created by the Recovery Act.

The Obama administration downplayed the data, saying it represents just a small sliver of the stimulus that's been spent since the massive recovery act was enacted in February.

No Social Security increase in 2010

Well it’s now official… the Social Security Administration announced today that there will be no cost-of-living increase for the more than 50 million Americans who receive Social Security benefits next year because consumer prices have fallen.

This will mark the first time that Social Security benefits have not been increased year over year since the cost-of-living adjustment was put into effect in 1975.

To help counterbalance the hit, President Obama is calling on Congress to send another $250 relief payment to seniors and other Americans to stem the economic strain.

Last year, Social Security beneficiaries got a 5.8% cost-of-living adjustment, the largest since 1982, largely because of the spike in energy prices.

And it's still not clear yet what if any changes will be made to seniors' Medicare Part B premiums for hospital care next year. The Social Security Administration said in its announcement that if there is an increase that a "hold harmless" provision in the law would protect 93% of Social Security beneficiaries from the increase.

Foreclosures: 'Worst three months of all time'

Despite concerted government-led and lender-supported efforts to prevent foreclosures, the number of filings hit a record high in the third quarter, according to a report from RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed homes.

"They were the worst three months of all time," said Rick Sharga, a spokesman for RealtyTrac.

During that time, 937,840 homes received a foreclosure letter - whether a default notice, auction notice or bank repossession, RealtyTrac’s report said. That means one in every 136 U.S. homes were in foreclosure, which is a 5% increase from the second quarter and a 23% jump over the third quarter of 2008.

That puts foreclosure-related filings on a pace to hit about 3.5 million this year, up from more than 2.3 million last year.

Weekly jobless claims drop

The number of people filing new claims for unemployment insurance fell to the lowest level since early January, a sign the labor market is slowly improving.

The Labor Dept. says first-time claims for jobless benefits dropped by 10,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 514,000 from an upwardly revised 524,000 the previous week. That’s the fifth decline in six weeks.

And the number of people continuing to claim benefits for one week or more dropped by 75,000 to 5.99 million, its first time below the 6 million mark since the week of March 28.

Goldman is Golden

The Goldman Sachs steamroller keeps chugging along. The investment bank posted a $3.2 billion quarterly profit this morning, crushing estimates for the third straight quarter.

But those profits don't come without public-relations issues.

The quarterly gain allowed Goldman to set aside $5.4 billion for employee compensation - bringing its bonus pool to $16.7 billion through Sept. 30. That's enough money to pay more than $500,000 to each and every one of Goldman's 31,000 employees.

And to critics, that number cries out for a reassessment of Goldman's priorities. Some small Goldman shareholders are sponsoring resolutions at next year's shareholder meeting that would have the board review the firm's pay practices.

Follow the money… on Twitter: @AndrewTorganCNN

Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Finance • Housing Market • Social Security
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