Stimulus Brought 1,990 Jobs, Vermont Says

By:  Terri Hallenbeck
Burlington Free Press

MONTPELIER — Vermont has seen 1,990 jobs created or saved from $55.97 million in federal stimulus money that has passed through state gov­ernment, according to its first quarterly report to the federal government.

That comes out to about $28,000 per job for one­-quarter of the year, or roughly $100,000 per job over the course of a year.

“Two thousand jobs is a significant number,” said Tom Evslin, the state chief recovery officer in charge of stimulus money.

The biggest chunk of jobs — 510 — was in a state Labor Department program for dislocated and disad­vantaged workers. The money also accounted for 474 highway construction jobs.

Evslin stressed Wednesday that the tally includes only those jobs created or saved directly by money that passed through state gov­ernment. Some of the money was targeted for saving pub­lic jobs that might otherwise have been cut or forced state or local budget cuts in other areas. Those included 421 jobs in public safety and 375 jobs in education.

The tally does not include $105 million in stimulus money for the state’s Medi­caid budget, he said. Nor does it account for jobs cre­ated indirectly, such as from a supplier or a restaurant that saw increased business due to a stimulus project, Evslin said.

“I think these statistics tend to underestimate rather than overestimate,” Evslin said of overall jobs created by the stimulus money.

The state was required to report on direct job creation for specific stimulus money by last Saturday and has un­til Wednesday to check the numbers for accuracy before the federal government re­leases all states’ information Oct. 30. Evslin reported the preliminary information to state legislators Wednesday in a conference call.

Rep. Janet Ancel, D-Ca­lais, one of two legislators appointed to follow the stimulus money, said it’s too early to tell whether Ver­mont is making the most of the money. “I tend to think overall we’re doing a good job to push the money out the door and put it to good use,” she said.

The federal government, on its stimulus Web site, re­ported Wednesday that Ver­mont has also seen 28 jobs created or saved through $12.7 million in stimulus­funded projects that did not go through state govern­ment. Funding for more of those types of projects, in­cluding applications from broadband providers, is pending.

Evslin said he thinks Ver­mont’s job creation stacks up well against other states.

A look at news reports from other states indicated that Vermont’s $28,000 cost¬per- job is competitive. Ohio reported numbers that came to $25,532 per job, and Ten¬nessee $26,420. In some cases it was difficult to com¬pare because it appeared that some states included Medicaid  money in their tal¬lies.

Evslin acknowledged that counting stimulus-funded jobs is an inexact science, noting that the report doesn’t account for jobs cre¬ated by subcontractors, for example. He also said it doesn’t mean the jobs will last.

“This is by no means a measure of permanent job creation,” Evslin said. The federal stimulus program  “was very much aimed at getting people to work right away.”

Art Woolf, a University of Vermont economics pro¬fessor, said the number of jobs Vermont has created sounds reasonable, but he said there is likely no pre¬cise way to count them.

He added that the stimu¬lus package will be judged by whether the money is spent on worthwhile proj¬ects with long-term eco¬nomic benefit. He ques¬tioned whether money spent shoring up state and school budgets falls into that cate¬gory. “It may make life nicer now, but it’s not going to create future wealth,” he said.