Report to provide clues on U.S. stimulus plan job creation

WASHINGTON Tue Oct 13, 2009 5:18pm EDT

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by Lisa Lambert

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two U.S. government reports due this month will provide clues on how the economic stimulus plan has impacted the country's workforce but they may not show exactly how many jobs it has created.

At the beginning of October, all those who received money under the $787 billion, two-year American Recovery and Reinvestment Act were required to submit information on where they spent the dollars.

On Thursday, the Web site www.recovery.gov will post a report based on data provided by contractors. It will follow on October 31 with a report on how stimulus grants were used.

"The one thing we're going to look at is the job numbers," said Brian Deery, senior director of the highway and transportation division of the Associated General Contractors of America. "We're going to be very interested with how those numbers jibe with unemployment we're seeing."

The stimulus was designed to staunch layoffs in the workforce. President Barack Obama said it would create or save more than 3 million jobs, with funding for transportation and infrastructure directly targeting construction workers, thousands of whom lost their jobs in the real estate downturn.

Still, the national unemployment rate has continued to grow since the stimulus was passed in February, reaching 9.8 percent in September, its highest in more than 25 years. The rate for construction workers has also remained high, at 17.1 percent, according to an analysis by the contractors group of Labor Department data.

Thursday's report will address a small portion of all of the funding in the stimulus plan, and will focus on Energy Department and General Services Administration projects.

"Whatever jobs figures come out will also undoubtedly be a tiny sliver of the Recovery Act's total job impact," said Gary Bass, executive director of OMB Watch, a non-profit group that monitors the federal budget, at a press conference.

Because the recipient reporting will only count jobs created directly, it will be lower than estimates that include those created indirectly, he said.

About $276 billion worth of projects will be tracked in these regular reports compiled by the White House Office of Management and Budget. October's dual reports will give details for about $143 billion worth of projects, according to the office.

A U.S. House of Representatives Transportation Committee report released last month showed the plan has created or saved 126,438 full-time equivalent construction job months.

The OMB has not defined the hours for a full-time job for the recipient reports, which may create some discrepancies, according to Bass.

The October reports will include national totals and also a map of each state's spending, according to a spokeswoman for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, charged with disseminating information about spending.

They will also show the top executives in companies affiliated with stimulus work, how many people are employed, how far projects have progressed, and what vendors were used.

The reports are different from estimates of 600,000 jobs created or saved that the White House Council of Economic Advisers put out in September. The council projected how many jobs would have been lost without the stimulus and subtracted from that the jobs that were lost in reality.

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