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Stimulus Saves Oregon Jobs, But Most Are In Government

Stimulus Saves Oregon Jobs, But Most Are In Government

Harry Esteve | The Oregonian via YellowBrix

October 13, 2009

“You can see it’s had a very positive impact,” Kerr said. “We’re hoping it continues.”

But public workers have seen the greatest benefits by far, particularly in schools and universities.

Statewide, the stimulus was credited with retaining or creating the equivalent of 5,225 full-time education jobs — 1,179 faculty jobs at Oregon’s six public universities and most of the rest in public schools and research grants. A big hunk of the public school job creation came in the field of special education, a particular target of stimulus funding.

The university system used all its stimulus money -some $52 million - to pay for faculty salaries and benefits.

Public schools have spent their money for training, materials and other expenses in addition to salaries. So far they have spent about $118 million, and have about $300 million left to spend during the balance of the school year and beyond, the state reported.

“It keeps us in the business of teaching and learning,” said State schools Superintendent Susan Castillo. “Education is absolutely essential to getting us out of this downturn and being able to rebuild a strong economy.”

Despite the heavy subsidy of public employment, Monday’s unemployment figures note a decline in government jobs. In addition, many government employees are taking unpaid furloughs to help make up for budget shortfalls.

The jobs figure released Monday understates the number of people who got work through the stimulus, Kulongoski said. Many more people have been hired, but the jobs have been seasonal, temporary or part-time. To meet federal standards, the state calculated the number of hours worked and translated that into 40-hour-a-week jobs.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., praised the state for quickly spending the money on highway projects as a way of putting people to work. He said he has seen reports from other states suggesting they have been more sluggish.

“Oregon is really leading the way in rebuilding some of our public infrastructure.”

Multnomah County so far has been the biggest recipient — $509 million awarded and $193 million spent. Of that, $44.2 million has gone for clean drinking water systems and $18.6 million for transportation projects. At the other end of the scale is Wheeler County, which has spent $331,825 so far, out of the $760,818 it has coming.

Kulongoski urged the public to view the report for themselves.

The stimulus “represents not only an unprecedented infusion of dollars to the state and local economies,” he said, “it also represents an unprecedented level of public transparency and accountability for how those dollars are invested.”

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