Stimulus creates 13,000 jobs in Maine

LEWISTON — About 13,000 jobs have been saved or created in Maine because of the economic stimulus package enacted in February 2009, according to a recently released quarterly report from the White House. Between 2.2 million and 2.8 million jobs were estimated to be saved or created nationwide.

The report, which reflects spending through the end of March, was issued by the Obama administration's Council of Economic Advisers and claims to be just a rough estimate of state-by-state employment numbers. Results from three economic models were averaged to come up with the estimates, which are different from how state governments are required to report stimulus-based job creation.

“The federal government requires us to report on direct jobs funded by recovery act dollars. The report (from the White House) is more based on higher-level economics; it counts multiplier factors,” said Ryan Low, commissioner of Maine's Department of Administrative and Financial Services. “That's not something the state is responsible for. In fact, they specifically don't want us counting multiplier effects.”

For example, a $9.6 million highway reconstruction project on Route 196 in Lisbon has only resulted in 2.34 jobs, according to the state of Maine's stimulus-tracking Web site. That's in part because only $63,000 have been spent on the project so far. But the state numbers don't take into account any ripple effects from that spending, like the federal report does.

“We're not responsible for calculating the impact if the construction company went out and bought a bunch of steel and that meant more people were employed from that business. The federal report takes that kind of stuff into consideration,” said Low, who added that about $783 million in stimulus money had so far passed through Maine state government.

Low said the White House figures were within the realm of possibility.

According to state-reported job numbers, the stimulus resulted in about 1,000 direct jobs saved or created between October and December 2009. Low said new numbers reflecting the most recent quarter would be released soon.

Scott Moody, the chief economist at the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a conservative-leaning think tank, said he wouldn't quibble with the number of jobs federal officials say the stimulus saved or created, but would argue their value.

“I didn't look at the technical side, in terms of the models they used and what not,” he said. “The biggest problem with the whole stimulus package saving jobs is, I don't think they've really made the distinction about what kinds of jobs they are saving.”

Moody said that recessions are a fact of life and that the jobs created or saved by the stimulus spending were mostly in the public sector.

“What the real problem is, when you look at Maine, you see the free fall in the private sector employment, and you don't see the same drop in public sector employment,” he said. “That is just exacerbating this long-term problem we have in the state, which is government employment at the expense of the private sector.”

Kit St. John, executive director of the Maine Center for Economic Policy, a liberal-leaning public policy group, said the federal job estimate for Maine was reasonable.

"This is not an exact science," he said, adding that the federal numbers provided a more comprehensive perspective on the overall impact of the $787 billion stimulus package in Maine.

The stimulus spending can be roughly broken down into three similarly sized spending areas, St. John said — tax cuts, state aid and project-based awards in a variety of areas, including transportation, weatherization and energy assistance.

“This downturn has been very serious, but it appears to have been lightened considerably by the strong federal intervention. What we have to say about (the stimulus) is that it prevented the loss of more jobs, and we can be grateful that Maine's unemployment rate is only 8.2 percent now, despite a national level of 9.7 percent,” St. John said. “It's not as bad as the early '90s, this recession, it now appears, though it was close, and it was worse nationally.”

There were about 58,000 unemployed Mainers in March, according to the most recent report from the Maine Department of Labor. That's up about 1,800 people from last year.

For more information about stimulus spending in Maine, visit www.maine.gov/recovery.

rmetzler@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

The headline is misleading

Check the first sentence.

And I don't believe the Obama propaganda for a minute.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

What version of it do you

What version of it do you want us to believe. The left always has 3-5 versions of the truth on every issue. Ask five liberals what they just saw after having witnessed a train wreck and you'll get 5 different stories. And one will surely complain that there was no one at the scene selling pizza. Such, as, "great wreck, but you couldn't even get a decent slice of pizza, man".

JONATHAN ALBRECHT's picture

Moody

Moody reportedly said "recessions are a fact of life". No they aren't. What he meant to say but can't is recessions are good for the economy particularly when they result in the reduction of middle income jobs and wealth. Since the Great Depression, every recession has been caused by conservative economic policies and every Democratic President has produced greater job growth than any Republican President. Conservative policies = recession every 10 years or so now. If they could get away with everything they want, it would be more like every 2 or 3 years. For example, Ron Paul wants to go back on the Gold Standard which would make South Africa, Russia, and some others world powers while crashing the US economy. But Sue Lowden, Republican Senatorial candidate in NV, has gone him one better. Don't just change our currency; eliminate it. Pay for everything you need with barter; pay your doctor with chickens.  Clueless.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

AARRGHH!!!!

AARRGHH!!!!

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Great post from frnchmn

Great post from frnchmn

 's picture

Tron. bla, bla, bla, bla,bla,

Tron. bla, bla, bla, bla,bla, bla, bla, bla, nothing but liberal garbage from you again today. Stimulus only saved public sector jobs. In other words the only people who suffered were private sector employees. State employment lost very few jobs if they lost any. The private sector is still in recession mode and will be there for a while longer. Believe me, once inflation hits the crap will flow downhill again, but you won't be able to blame the previous administration this time.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"Why you have to bring that

"Why you have to bring that organization into the article is beyond me."

For the same reason that the Maine Center for Economic Policy, "a liberal leaning organization", was mentioned in the article. It's called balance. A concept you have consistently failed to recognize. Those who know you understand why that is beyond you.

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