GAO says health funding in stimulus has created jobs

Enhanced funding for the National Institutes of Health is supporting about 21,000 jobs, the Government Accountability Office said Monday.

The economic stimulus included $8.2 billion for the NIH, which awards grants to fund private research. According to the GAO, the money is supporting an increasing number of jobs. Stimulus funding for the NIH supported about 12,000 jobs in December 2009, which grew to 21,000 this past June.

Researchers have mostly used the money to avoid losing their existing employees, the GAO found. At five research institutions GAO surveyed, 29 percent of the jobs supported by NIH funding in the stimulus were new positions.

The GAO's findings echo the arguments that universities and other NIH advocates have made all year — they have said throughout Congress's various budget-cutting efforts that NIH funding should be protected because it helps create high-tech research jobs.

The NIH estimates that its stimulus funding will eventually support 54,000 jobs, according to the GAO report.