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2.4 Million Jobs Supported by the Recovery Act - and a Depression Averted

2.4 Million Jobs Supported by the Recovery Act - and a Depression Averted

Thursday, February 18, 2010

PERMALINK: http://www.progressivestates.org/node/24588

Growing-Economy

By: ALTAF RAHAMATULLA

2.4 Million Jobs Supported by the Recovery Act - and a Depression Averted

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  The annual report by the White House task force monitoring the impact of ARRA funds, led by Vice-President Joe Biden, finds that up to 2.4 million jobs have been created or saved in both the public and private sector as a result of federal recovery efforts. 

The Vice President's report describes the importance of state fiscal relief as a critical component of job creation efforts.  This includes supporting 300,000 education jobs across the country:

The money is allowing state governments to pay teachers (hundreds of thousands across the country according to reports filed from state governments), firefighters and police officers and is also preventing states’ budget gaps from growing wider.  And those hardest hit by the recession are getting extended unemployment insurance, health coverage, and other assistance to get through these tough times.  This money goes to state governments and families in need, without red tape or delays, and was designed to be the quickest acting mechanism to save our economy from the brink of a second Great Depression... And without these payments, those hurting the most in our country would have found themselves in even greater need, and our economy would have suffered much greater damage.

This is all the more reason legislators from around the country are signing onto PSN's letter supporting more state fiscal relief as the most effective way to continue to boost the economy.

Some of the other important accomplishments of the Recovery Act include:

  • 95 percent of working Americans saw a tax cut that immediately boosted consumer spending ability.
  • Money has been allocated to programs and projects ahead of schedule with unprecedented transparency-- with 160,00 reports from recipients on ARRA funds submitted and made public.
  • 12,500 transportation construction projects have been funded, while 11,000 bus and rail vehicles have been purchased with ARRA funds.
  • 12,000 cutting-edge medical research projects at research and educational institutions in states across the country have been supported.
  • Smart Grid funding is modernizing the electricity grid, including the deployment of 18 million smart meters and 877 digital sensors in the U.S. transmission system.
  • 143,422 housing units have been rehabbed or developed to create jobs and improve the living standards in urban areas of the country.
  • State and local governments have issued $70.8 billion in Build America Bonds to provide needed capital for school construction, water projects and infrastructure development.

The following map details the number of jobs created or saved by the recovery act in all states.

As we have explained in previous Dispatches, the implementation of the Recovery Act has alleviated the severity of the recession, created jobs, kept millions of families out of poverty, and helped mitigate state budget deficits. 

Economists across the ideological spectrum have extolled the benefits of the recovery efforts.  In a September 2009 speech, Christina Romer, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, confirmed that, "[p]roviding $787 billion of tax cuts and spending increases [is] the boldest counter-cyclical fiscal expansion in American history."  Mark Zandi, former economic adviser to Senator John McCain's presidential campaign and chief economist at Moody's Economy.com, finds that the Recovery Act was key to the 5.7 percent GDP growth in the last quarter of 2009.  Furthermore, he states, "[t]he world would be measurably worse if not for [the ARRA]... We'd be talking about a depression."

The accompanying graphic from the Economic Policy Institute highlights the dramatic shift in monthly job losses before and after the passage of ARRA. 

Source: Economic Policy Institute - The Recovery Act Worked

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Growing-Economy

By: FABIOLA CARRION

Solar Energy Continues to Make Its Case - Now as a Job Creator

With more people worried about job security and the economy, state policy leaders and several corporations are making the case for renewable energy legislation as a job creator.

Solar energy creates and retains jobs, including those in the manufacturing industry.  Texas business leaders noted in a recent report, Lone Star Power: How Texas Businesses Can Supply the World with Solar Energy, one of the great advantages of solar plants is the large number of components that are involved in installing solar power systems. Manufacturing and installing these devices requires significant job creation.  In addition, jobs to maintain solar plants cannot be transferred overseas, therefore guaranteeing that jobs will remain in this country.  In fact,the same Texas business leaders acknowledged the solar industry creates 50% more jobs than the coal industry. Additionally, an increasing number of American manufacturers are losing their edge in the international playing field.  For instance, China is currently the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels and the front runner in the green world economy, boasting 1.12 million renewable energy jobs at the end of 2008.  There is a clear need for investment in solar energy in order to remain a competitor in the global market.

So what does it mean to be solar?  One way to generate solar energy involves using mirrors to reflect and focus the sun’s rays, providing heat, which in turn results in power.  Another increasingly popular way to create solar energy is through photovoltaic panels, where solar systems are installed on the rooftops of homes and office buildings.  These solar roofs are also easily linked to the electrical grid, which manages electricity consumption, thus increasing efficiency.

In our Dispatch last March, we listed some state efforts to enact solar energy legislation.  So, what are some states doing lately with solar energy?

  • In Maryland, one bill was introduced to require a quicker ramp-up of the solar portion of the state's renewable portfolio standard and another bill was introduced to require utilities to pay customers back any surplus energy they create with the solar panels on their roofs. 
  • The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) has also initiated a project to create what will be the world's largest solar farm in Owens Lake, California. 
  • Corporations and environmental groups in Texas are advocating for incentives to build solar-integrated buildings in the state that enjoys the most solar solar radiation in the country.  They also cite a Blue Green Alliance report, which finds that Texas could gain over 23,000 manufacturing jobs in solar energy if the US were to move to a 25% renewable energy standard.   

If states continue to take action encouraging investment in solar power, manufacturers, workers, and consumers will benefit from the opportunity to create and retain jobs in building solar capacity.

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Increasing-Democracy

By: SUMAN RAGHUNATHAN

State Policymakers Need to Respond to Growing Clout of Latino Voters Nationwide

A recent report from the advocacy group America’s Voice highlighted the growing power of Latino voters in the upcoming 2010 elections.  Latino voters played a critical role in 2008 to propel President Obama to victory in several key swing states that previously trended Republican, including Virginia.  Latino voter registration and turnout rates have exploded over the past few years: roughly 10 million voted in the 2008 Presidential election alone, a 2.5 million increase from 2004 and 4 million person increase since 2000.  Latino voter registration grew by over 54% between 2000 and 2008, and turnout grew 64% over the same time period.  

The shifting composition of the electorate nationwide will increasingly affect state legislators and races.  This trend is particularly evident in immigrant ”˜new destination states’ in the South and Southwest, where growing numbers of immigrant residents are expected to translate into new Congressional districts after the 2010 Census.  In response, progressive state leaders can take a few key steps:

  • Take Action on Immigrant Rights, a Defining Issue for Many Latinos:  Immigration was not the number one issue for all Latino voters: like most Americans, the economy remains critical for them.  Nevertheless, immigration reform remains important to a broad majority of Latinos as they make voting decisions. According to a May 2009 poll of Latino voters, 82% felt the issue was important to them and their families. Foreign-born Latinos (many of whom still have friends or family members who are documented residents but aren’t yet US citizens or who are undocumented) often feel comprehensive immigration reform and immigration policy is a top issue.  State leaders can join State Legislators for Progressive Immigration Policy to promote state policies that support immigrants and add their voices to those of other state legislators calling for comprehensive federal immigration reform.
  • Address Other Key Concerns of Latino Voters:  Latino voters need to see progressive state leaders standing up for other key concerns as well, such as health care.  A survey last November found Latino registered voters' top concern was health care reform, with 61% saying the government should ensure that all people have health insurance, even if it means raising taxes.  Addressing core issues for working families is also key to cementing support from Latino voters.
  • Support Latino Voter ParticipationState leaders can respond to increased Latino voter engagement by continuing to protect their voting rights.  State leaders can encourage this trend by introducing and supporting measures to encourage voting such as vote-by-mail, same-day registration and reforms, as well as strengthening civic engagement overall.
  • Support State-Level Policies and Programs that Integrate Immigrant Residents:  Funding immigrant integration measures such as expanded ESL classes is critical for immigrant residents to fully participate in their community, yet demand continues to far outweigh supply for free or low-cost ESL classes.  Waiting lists for ESL programs, which often receive some federal funding, remain long nationwide.  English proficiency also translates to better wages for immigrant workers, as they can speak up for their rights at the workplace: one academic study found low-wage workers who moved up one English proficiency level saw a 30% increase in their wages.  
  • Reach Spanish-Dominant Latinos:  Foreign-born Latinos who predominantly speak Spanish are emerging as swing voters, and are a sizeable share of the Latino electorate: 40% were born outside the US and are naturalized US citizens. According to the New Democrat Network, the GOP more than doubled its share of the Latino vote from 1996 to 2004 by prioritizing outreach to Spanish-dominant Latinos.  Both parties are well aware of this dynamic, and continue to step up their outreach: nearly 70% of 2008 immigration-related Presidential campaign ads were in Spanish.  

Raising state voices in support of immigration reform is critical, especially in the wake of Congressional inaction on the issue.  Despite repeated promises from White House and Congressional leaders to enact comprehensive immigration reform during President Obama's first year in office, momentum on comprehensive immigration reform has slowed in recent months.  Yet the current federal vacuum on immigration reform presents an opportunity for states to craft progressive policies that support immigrant integration, such as English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, and protect the rights of immigrant workers. Meanwhile, efforts continue toward comprehensive immigration reform: in an interview last week with Los Angeles’ Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión, US House of Representatives Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi reiterated her commitment to enacting comprehensive immigration reform this year — a message she notably has not broadcast in the mainstream media.  Pelosi noted she recently raised the issue with President Obama, who said he would work with Congress to develop a bill this year. 

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Growing-Economy

By: ALTAF RAHAMATULLA

Eye on the Right: Opposing the Recovery While Taking Credit for the Results

How do we know the Recovery Act is working?

Over 70 members of the House of Representatives vociferously opposed ARRA, but returned to their home districts to take credit for job creation, investments in infrastructure and the green economy, and spending on critical community needs.  Many of these same lawmakers requested further federal funds for projects in their states. 

  • Although Pennsylvania Rep. Bill Shuster was against federal recovery efforts, he attended a groundbreaking cermony for a sewage treatment plant funded by ARRA.  He additionally requested that Gov. Ed Rendell utilize recovery money to reopen a school for veterans' children, claiming it would "save about 134 full-time jobs." 
  • Texas Rep. Michael McCaul stated, "I didn't support final passage but at the same time I wanted to make sure if we are spending that kind of money that much of that gets directed to Texas."  Along with the Texas Congressional delegation, he also requested that Obama's administration direct $3 billion in unused recovery dollars to fund NASA's manned space program.
  • South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson, of "You lie" fame, voted against ARRA, but sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack requesting recovery funds for a foundation in his state.
  • An outspoken opponent of federal recovery efforts, House Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor met with transportation officials to explore how Virginia could apply for high-speed rail funds though ARRA.  On top of that, in November 2009, Rep. Cantor held a job fair that featured almost 15 organizations that received aid from the Recovery Act.

At the state level, there are conservative Governors who also opposed ARRA, but have included recovery funds in their budget proposals this fiscal year.  Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty previously bashed the Obama Administration and criticized the idea of utilizing federal recovery funds for state fiscal relief, but includes ARRA as a critical portion of his budget proposal.  In fact, "[n]early one-third of the governor's budget fix would rely on $387 million in federal stimulus money."  Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a persistent critic of the recovery act during his campaign, has touted $24 million in federal funds for health care information technology made available for the state through ARRA funding.

The blatant hypocrisy of these right-wing officials is quite telling.  At the basic level, this indicates an inherent acknowledgment that pumping federal funds into the economy creates jobs and fosters growth.  The right's deceptive rhetoric is a stark reminder of the hollowness of their failed economic, tax, and budget policies.

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Research Roundup

Addressing State Budget Deficits:

  • A Balanced Approach to Closing State Deficits - To close budget deficits, this report by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities urges a "balanced approach" that includes increasing efficiency in existing spending, using available resources like rainy day funds and federal fiscal support, scrutinizing all spending including tax expenditure, improved collections, and appropriate revenue increases.  It also urges examining contracting practices to reexamine whether private contractors are delivering value compared to doing the work in-house with government employees.  It provides links to a number of Center resources to assist on each of these goals.
  • Let There Be Light: Making Oklahoma's Tax Expenditures More Transparent and Accountable - This Oklahoma Policy Institute policy brief found over 450 separate tax expenditures in Oklahoma law; together, they represented at least $5.6 billion in lost revenue in FY '08, an amount equal to more than 75 percent of direct state appropriations and an increase of over $1 billion compared to just two years earlier. The brief lays out a dozen specific policy recommendations to expand transparency and accountability for those tax expenditures.
  • The State of the States 2010 - While focus has been on the immediate ways the recession is effecting state budgets, this report by the Pew Center on the States also looks at the choices lawmakers and voters are about to make that will affect states’ fiscal well-being in the long term.  Questions raised include whether changes will lead to permanent downsizing of government and whether there will be a reexamination of how states and the federal government divide responsibility for funding certain programs

Promoting Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity-

  • Uniting Communities: The Toolkit - This new toolkit by the Western States Center is designed to proactively bring together the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community and communities of color to address racial justice and LGBTQ equality.  It contains 10 case studies that highlight the successes that groups across the country have had in breaking new paths towards inclusiveness and culturally specific engagement.
  • Ensuring Equal and Expanded Opportunity - The Opportunity Agenda has created this series of tools for advocates and policymakers to use as they advocate for equal opportunity in the economic recovery process.  As they argue, an economic recovery policy should not only jump-start the economy in the short-term, but also invest in lasting opportunity for all beyond simply returning us to the conditions that existed at the beginning of this economic crisis.
  • Broadband in the Mississippi Delta: A 21st Century Racial Justice Issue - With far too little Internet access in communities of color, hundreds of thousands are effectively prevented from contributing to the economy, as this report on broadband availability in Mississippi by the Center for Social Inclusion finds.  Neighborhoods without high-speed access have few businesses and few jobs available.  The report urges that Recovery Act funds ensure that resources are directed to communities hardest hit by the recession, particularly rural and urban communities of color.

Immigration and Wages: Methodological Advancements Confirm Modest Gains for Native Workers -  In a new analysis of the impact of immigrants and immigration on wage levels for native-born workers, the Economic Policy Institute contradicts the flawed conventional wisdom on immigration’s effect on wage rates of native-born workers.  The recent study uncovered little evidence that immigration negatively impacts US-born workers, and found the wages of native-born workers actually rose as a result of immigration between 1994 and 2007 — a period when the nation absorbed a historic influx of immigrants.  In addition, the study found wage rates of black and white native-born workers rose overall as a result of immigration.  

The Foreclosure Generation: The Long-Term Impact of the Housing Crisis on Latino Children and Families - Latino children and families who have lost their homes to foreclosure suffer long-term psychological and social trauma, according to this report by the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and UNC's Center for Community Capital (CCC).  Problems experienced by Latino families include multiple moves, marital discord, anxiety, depression, children's poor performance in school, and loss of the family savings and financial safety net.  These troubles continue to escalate for our nation as an estimated 1.3 million Latino families have lost or will lose their homes to foreclosure between 2009 and 2012. 

The Right Track: Building a 21st Century High-Speed Rail System for America - U.S. PIRG explores the economic and social significance of passenger rail and the need for substantial investment moving forward.  The report comprehensively analyzes current infrastructure on a regional and state basis and provides recommendations as to how the country can properly develop a 21st century rail network that will reduce oil dependence, encourage regional cooperation, protect the environment, and foster growth.

Expanded Time, Enriching Experiences: Expanded Learning Time Schools and Community Organization Partnerships - This Center for American Progress report examines how longer school days and years have been used in some school districts to improve student outcomes.  Many schools also seek to maximize student success within the expanded school day through partnerships with external organizations that offer a variety of resources to students and teachers. The report recommends involving partners early in planning processes, ensuring that partners have the capacity to include all children in their programs, and that policymakers help facilitate that these partnerships are funded and supported.

Improving Access to Public Benefits: Helping Eligible Individuals and Families Get the Income Support They Need - While the federal Recovery Act helped make available funds for the unemployed and low-income families suffering in the recession, many of those resources are unused by those in need because of eligibility requirements and complicated application processes, according to this report by the Ford Foundation, Open Society Institute, and Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report calls for improved outreach efforts to increase public awareness and the implementation of new technology-based tools to ease the application process.


Please email us leads on good research at research@progressivestates.org.

Resources

2.4 Million Jobs Supported by the Recovery Act - and a Depression Averted

Council of Economic Advisers - The Economic Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Second Quarterly Report” 
Economic Policy Institute - The Recovery Act Worked
Mark Zandi - The Impact of the Recovery Act on Economic Growth
The New York Times - Judging Stimulus by Job Data Reveals Success
PSN - Take Action: Additional Federal Job Creation and State Fiscal Relief Needed
White House.gov - Annual Report to the President on Progress Implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

Solar Energy Continues to Make Its Case - Now as a Job Creator

Environment Texas - Lone Star Power: How Texas Businesses Can Supply the World With Solar Energy
Tree Hugger - New Bill Could Create 10 Million Solar Roofs Across US
Progressive States Network - Promoting Municipal Financing for Solar Power Investments
The Baltimore Sun
- Maryland Aims for 100,000 Solar Rooftops in 10 years
Reuters - Los Angeles Eyes Owens Lake for Huge Solar Project
Blue Green Alliance - Building the Clean Energy Assembly Line: How Renewable Energy can Revitalize U.S. Manufacturing and the American Middle Class

State Policymakers Need to Respond to Growing Clout of Latino Voters Nationwide

America's Voice - The Power of the Latino Vote in the 2010 Elections: They Tipped Elections in 2008; Where Will They Be in 2010?
Latino Decisions/UNM RWJF Center/impreMedia - Survey of Latino Registered Voters
Progressive States Network - State Legislators for Progressive Immigration Policy
Progressive States Network - State Immigration Policy to Promote National Change

Eye on the Right: Opposing the Recovery While Taking Credit for the Results

The Washington Times - Stimulus foes see value in seeking cash

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The Stateside Dispatch is written and edited by:

Nathan Newman, Executive Director
Nora Ranney, Legislative Director
Marisol Thomer, Outreach Director
Fabiola Carrion, Broadband & Green Jobs Policy Specialist
Enzo Pastore, Health Care Policy Specialist
Suman Raghunathan, Immigrant Rights Policy Specialist
Altaf Rahamatulla, Tax & Budget Policy Specialist
Julie Bero, Executive Administrator and Outreach Associate
Mike Maiorini, Online Technology Manager

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