W.H. says stimulus saved 250K jobs

Federal stimulus dollars saved more than 250,000 teaching and education jobs this year, the White House claimed on Monday.

While the recession forced state and local governments to trim educating spending, the cuts would have been far deeper without the stimulus cash, according to the report released by the White House Domestic Policy Council. More than $100 billion of the $787 billion in stimulus funds Congress approved earlier this year will eventually be allocated to education-related fields, the report said.

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For example, federal dollars helped state lawmakers in Alabama, California, Indiana and Oregon restore about 9 percent of previously trimmed money to its K-12 programs, Melody Barnes, director of the Domestic Policy Council, explained Monday.

Stimulus cash also restored 12 percent of cuts in Florida, Wisconsin and South Carolina and 23 percent of reductions in Illinois, she added.

The report comes as the White House continues to face criticism from Republicans that the stimulus has done little to spur economic growth.

Unemployment has jumped nearly two percentage points to 9.8 percent since the stimulus became law, and it is expected to rise further in coming months.

The White House claims the stimulus will create or save 3.5 million jobs by next year, and administration officials including Jared Bernstein, chief economist and policy adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, on Monday argued the new report shows the administration is on track to meet that goal.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the spending on education will save jobs and help students compete in a global economy.

“There is a lot more work to be done, but we applaud those districts that have successfully used stimulus funding to stave off catastrophic layoffs and invest in critical reforms,” Duncan said in a statement.

But critics still fear that the federal government’s education stimulus programs are only delaying the inevitable. If federal lawmakers do not maintain those aid levels once the recovery act expires, they say states will cut their education programs again to balance their budgets.

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Also emboldening critics is another report released last week that showed stimulus cash so far had created only 30,000 federal contract-based jobs.

The White House argued that those 30,000 jobs were created from 5 percent of the stimulus funding, and calculated that 1.2 million jobs would be saved or created based on that success rate. That figure includes jobs directly created from the contracts, and an equal number of jobs indirectly created by recovery act dollars.

A more complete report evaluating all stimulus programs is due later this month from the White House. The Domestic Policy Council on Monday said it could not determine how many of the 250,000 jobs noted in its report were newly created jobs, and how many were saved.