WASHINGTON Capital works projects funded by the U.S. economic stimulus plan created or saved more than 21,000 jobs by the end of May, according to a report released Tuesday by a House of Representatives committee, showing that the pace of stimulus job creation has quickened.
Utah accounted for nearly 10 percent of the jobs -- 2,041, all of which are involved in highway repairs.
Four other states have created or saved more than 1,000 jobs, but 13 states count no new jobs created.
At the end of April, states, territories and the District of Columbia reported to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that only 1,288 jobs had been created or saved by the water, highway and transit components of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
President Barack Obama pushed to dedicate $38 billion in the $787 billion plan to capital projects that could be started immediately, in the hopes of allaying painfully high unemployment levels in construction and related work.
A few states, such as Arkansas and Florida, have already completed stimulus projects. But those capital works represent a small handful when compared to those that have been put out to bid, put under contract, or begun -- 7,790.
Illinois, which has yet to complete any of its stimulus capital works, has started the most projects at 542.
California, where the unemployment rate reached a historic high of 11.5 percent last month, has reaped the benefit of 849 jobs from the stimulus infrastructure program so far.
CONSTRUCTION WORKERS STILL HURTING
Even though stimulus-related employment is gaining, the program still has a way to go to help construction workers whose livelihoods have been hurt since the housing downturn began nearly two years ago. In May alone, the industry lost 59,000 jobs.
When the plan was passed in February, Obama and the U.S. Congress pledged that Americans would easily see its effects.
But states soon found the requirements involved a large amount of work, primarily because they had to report different numbers to Congress and various agencies. Some were also confused by how to track jobs that had been saved.
On Thursday, the White House's budget office issued guidance that a job retained is an existing position that would not have continued without Recovery Act funding. A job cannot be counted as both created and retained, it added.
Those receiving stimulus funds will report the number of jobs "associated" with their projects to a new website, www.federalreporting.gov, which will begin publishing tallies in October, according to the budget office.
"We're putting in place a streamlined, manageable way for them to report and make the information available to the American people," Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said in a statement.
(Editing by Jan Paschal)