Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is pushing back against the idea that federal stimulus money spending by his department is not helping the economy, saying the funds are creating thousands of jobs.
In an Aug. 19 posting on his official blog, LaHood said Department of Transportation funds from the Recovery Act “directly resulted in nearly 15,000 jobs” during June. “This was almost triple the number for May,” he said.
Those delayed tallies are by now well below the number of jobs the DOT stimulus money has actually supported, since many more road, bridge, rail, port and airport projects have gotten under way as the summer continued.
And actual disbursements of promised DOT funds have sharply escalated in recent weeks, pushing more federal money through the economy as construction bills came in from states through the first days of August. (See “DOT Stimulus Payouts Rise $347 Million in Week.")
But just in June, LaHood said DOT grants for highway and bridge projects generated more than 8,600 jobs. Another 4,400 resulted from grants to transit agencies, he said, while airport improvement work required 1,700 more jobs.
Those do not include other types of transportation jobs coming out of the stimulus measure. In the past week, for instance, two builders of locomotives for freight and transit operations said stimulus money fueled new orders that will generate work for them and their suppliers over the next year.
Through Aug. 7, DOT said it had obligated half of the total $48 billion in stimulus money it will spend this year and next and already paid out $1.5 billion.
An update a week later by the Federal Highway Administration said that agency alone, which is handling most of DOT’s grants, had disbursed $1 billion by Aug. 14, authorized project spending of $17.7 billion or 66 percent of its total and had 3,248 projects currently under construction worth $9.5 billion.
Yet to come are $1.5 billion in grants to be awarded by LaHood under a discretionary account he says will cover some seaport projects, and $8 billion in passenger rail grants that will include spending on freight as well as passenger track networks.
Contact John D. Boyd at firstname.lastname@example.org.