CNN Money, senior writer
The job market and economy need a serious jumpstart, but the stimulus program likely won't be able to do it.
This summer will be the peak of the $787 billion stimulus program in terms of creating jobs and pumping money into the economy. In fact, the Obama administration is calling it the Summer of Recovery because more than 30,000 miles of highways are being improved, more than 2,800 water projects have been started and 120,000 homes will be weatherized.
Shifting to stimulus projects
When it was passed in February 2009, the nation's largest stimulus program focused on sending aid to struggling state governments, providing tax relief and augmenting the safety net for the unemployed and low income.
Some 57% of tax benefits and 60% of entitlement money has already been paid out, according to federal data. But only 43% of the funding for contracts, loans and grants has gone out the door.
Now, however, the focus is shifting to infrastructure and other projects that will drive job growth, according to the administration. For instance, President Obama on Friday announced 66 new stimulus-funded broadband projects nationwide that officials say will create about 5,000 jobs immediately and spur long-term economic development.
Bethune, however, says that the government's projections are overly optimistic. Though he agrees that the Recovery Act has juiced the economy, he feels it's closer to a 1 percentage point increase in the gross domestic product in the first quarter, rather than that 2.5 to 2.9 percentage point hike estimated by the White House's Council of Economic Advisers.
"Just look at the number of jobs we created over the past four quarters," he said. "There haven't been a lot."
Unemployment slid to 9.5% in June even as 125,000 jobs were lost. The vast majority of those losses, however, were temporary Census workers. Private sector employers added 83,000 positions.
Filed under: Economy
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