The Recovery Act Blog

  • You Don't Have to Take Our Word For It

    Take a look at what independent economists and economic observers from across the political spectrum have had to say about the success of the Recovery Act on its one-year anniversary:

    Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Bank: "The stimulus worked," said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Bank. Without it, "the unemployment rate would probably be closer to 11 percent" and the economy might not have grown at all last year.” [ABC News, 2/18/10]

    Economist Stephen Herzenberg: “Cut through all the numbers, though, and this is what you find: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act saved us from plunging into a second Great Depression… The Recovery Act brought the economy back from the brink.  And these figures probably underestimate its impact, because they don't take market psychology into account. When the legislation passed, the economy was plunging at a pace similar to that of the 1930s. If Congress had sat on its hands, unemployment now could easily be 12 percent to 15 percent - and on its way to 20 percent.”  [Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/17/10]

    Mark Zandi of Moody’s “The economy has shed some three million jobs over the past year, but it would have lost closer to five million without stimulus,” said Mark Zandi, who is currently advising Congressional Democrats but also advised Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee. “The economy is still struggling, but it would have been much worse without stimulus.” [New York Times, 1/17/10]

    Lawrence Mishel, President of the Economic Policy Institute: “If you go to the economic forecasters, who make their money doing this, they confirm that the -- you know, we have saved around two million jobs in the process.  If you look at what actually happened in the economy, in the beginning of 2009, we were losing 750,000 jobs a month. In the last three months, we were losing about 35,000. This wasn't by accident that we went from a deep, you know, decline in the economy to an actual growing economy…. And the administration's actually done something pretty marvelous of trying to actually track where all the money went, who got it, and how many jobs were created. And, if anything, they understate the amount of jobs being created. Yes, so, I think there's been a tremendous effort to actually document the impact of this.”  [PBS Newshour, 2/17/10]

    Nariman Behravesh, chief economist of IHS/Global Insight: “It prevented things from getting much worse than they otherwise would have been,’ Nariman Behravesh, Global Insight’s chief economist, says. ‘I think everyone would have to acknowledge that’s a good thing.” [New York Times, 2/17/2010]

    OMB Watch: “[T]he one thing that cannot be denied is that the Act has substantially advanced the cause of fiscal transparency.  We could complain that the transparency provisions of the Act are not perfect, but without the Act, we wouldn't even have anything to gripe about.  We'd still be stuck arguing whether timely recipient reporting is a feasible goal or not.  In this sense, the Recovery Act provided a convenient pilot program for fiscal transparency.  Now, one year later, the Act has not only proved that broad-based recipient reporting is feasible, it has shown that the reporting is useful.  By showing how multiple levels of recipients (although not all levels of sub-recipients) have used their federal funding, the Recovery Act has provided the government and its citizens an unprecedented ability to see where its money has gone.”  [, 2/17/10]

    Associated General Contractors economist Ken Simonson: “’The stimulus is saving construction jobs, driving demand for new equipment and delivering better and more efficient infrastructure,’ said Ken Simonson, an economist with Associated General Contractors, which represents a large part of the construction industry.  Simonson calculated that roughly 15,000 jobs have been created or preserved for every $1 billion the government has spent on infrastructure projects, which is well above the association’s year-ago estimate of 9,700 jobs. He said that stimulus-funded road construction projects alone have created 280,000 jobs over the past year, as well as an unknown number of ancillary jobs for subcontractors supplying equipment and raw materials.”  [San Diego Union Tribune, 2/17/10]

    Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association: “One year ago today, President Obama visited a solar installation to sign the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The purpose of the bill was to stimulate immediate job growth with a strong emphasis on clean energy technologies like solar. And that is exactly what happened. In 2009, the Recovery Act helped the solar industry create 18,000 new American jobs. More than 50 new solar energy manufacturing plants are under construction now with the support of ARRA.” [Solar Energy Industries Association, 2/17/10]

    Michael Graetz, a former George H.W. Bush Treasury official: "’It was right 40 years ago, and it's right today, and it's nice that something good comes out of the stimulus,’ says Michael Graetz, a Columbia Law School tax professor who did a stint at Treasury in the George H. W. Bush years.  Today, beneath partisan gunfire and ideological clashes in Washington, one of the few things on which Democrats and Republicans in the Senate agree is that Build America Bonds should be made permanent.  It probably will be.”  [Wall Street Journal, 2/17/10]

    Liz Oxhorn is Recovery Act Communications Director

  • Opponents of Recovery Act Take Credit for Impact of Bill They Voted Against

    Today, on the one year anniversary of the signing of the Recovery Act, like clockwork we're seeing opponents of the bill on the attack on cable TV and in the newspaper.  That's no surprise.  What is surprising, though, is that many of these very same Members who voted against the bill and take every opportunity to go on national television and attack it have actually celebrated and taken credit for Recovery Act money making an impact in their own districts.

    House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) voted against the Recovery Act twice, but then touted the job-creation and economic development potential of a stimulus-funded high speed rail project in Virginia.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) voted against the Recovery Act twice but then touted a military project in Kentucky funded by the stimulus as "a source of significant employment.

    They can't really have it both ways.  Yet Recovery Act opponents across the country are trying to do just that: bash the Recovery Act in Washington while taking credit for it at home.  Just take a look at some of these stories from the Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal for more examples.

    As David Leonhardt highlighted in the New York Times today, the bottom line is that the Recovery Act has created jobs that otherwise would not have existed and cushioned the blow of the economic downturn.  Well-known independent economic research firms IHS Global Insight, Macroeconomic Advisers and Moody's have all estimated that the Recovery Act has added 1.6 million to 1.8 million jobs to the economy so far, and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimate of jobs created thus far is even higher: 2.4 million.  While we won't be satisfied until we begin to see net job growth, the fact is that job losses today are a fraction of what they were a year ago before the Recovery Act was passed. 

    The President is also working with Congress on additional jobs measures, many of which are rooted in the early successes of the Recovery Act.  The President continues to work every day to find more ways to create more jobs and drive economic growth and he won’t be satisfied until our economy is back on firm footing.

    Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director

  • One Year, Two Million People Working, a New Foundation

    In order to fully understand the scope of the Recovery Act, there are three levels to consider: the national, the local, and the individual.

    Recovery Act: The National Level

    This morning the Vice President – who has overseen the implementation of the Recovery Act as one of his primary responsibilities – marked the one-year anniversary with his first annual report to the President on progress (pdf). A White House release, "Recovery by the Numbers," breaks out some key bullet points – here are just a few:


    • CBO: According to the nonpartisan CBO, the Recovery Act is already responsible for as many as 2.4 million jobs through the end of 2009.
    • CEA, Other Private Forecasters: Analysis by the Council of Economic Advisers also found that the Recovery Act is responsible for about 2 million jobs – a figure in line with estimates from private forecasters like IHS Global, Moody’s Economy and even the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

    The Economy

    • GDP/Economic Growth: In the fourth quarter of 2009, the economy grew 5.7 percent – – the largest gain in six years and something many economists say is largely due to the Recovery Act.  Before the Recovery Act, the economy was shrinking by about 6 percent.
    • Job Losses: Job losses for the fourth quarter of 2009 were one-seventh what they were in the first quarter of 2009 when the Recovery Act was passed.

    There's plenty more in there, including breakdowns on infrastructure, technology and innovation, immediate relief, and aid to state and local governments. The Vice President also penned an op-ed in USA Today where he discussed the job creation estimates and the role the Recovery Act played in bringing us back from the brink of outright depression, but also what lies ahead:

    And yet, to me, the most exciting thing about the Recovery Act is not what we've done, but what lies ahead. Many Recovery Act programs that will build the groundwork for the economy of the 21st century will be implemented in the next few months. Broadband access for small and rural communities. New factories where electric cars and clean fuel cells will be made. Wind farms, solar panels — and the facilities to construct them. New health technologies and smarter electrical power grids will be creating jobs this year thanks to the Recovery Act. Truly, the best is yet to come.

    In remarks this morning, the President touched on another top level guiding principle of the Recovery Act – creating a new foundation for the American economy. From building a clean energy economy and creating a smarter energy grid, to revitalizing America’s infrastructure and transportation, to making our health records electronic and efficient, to rewarding excellence in teaching our children, people were put to work building a better future for America.

    Recovery Act: The Local Level

    Here at, we looked at a more local level, with an interactive map looking at a sample of key projects, and the video below featuring the Mayors of Charleston, SC, Philadelphia, PA, Des Moines, IA, Columbus, OH, and Fresno, CA, all telling the story of how the Recovery Act affected cities and towns across the country:

    Download Video: mp4 (50MB)

    Recovery Act: The Individual Level

    With job losses, it always feels like missing the point to talk about numbers and figures, when every job lost can mean almost infinite pain and struggle for a given family. And in the same way that the President and Vice President understand the tough times Americans are going through with that lens, that is also the most meaningful way to look at what the Recovery Act has accomplished.  Joining the President this morning, the Vice President took a moment to talk about just one person:

    Just yesterday, as I said, in Saginaw, Michigan, I was with a gentleman who has his B.A. -- his name is Gonzalez -- Mr. Gonzalez.  He worked for an automobile company and he got laid off.  His wife and two kids were there at this event.  But because of the Recovery Act and the job training program at a community college in his town, he went back and took a 16-hour course in being able to begin to deal with -- 16-week course -- in being able to deal with chemicals related to how they produced solar panels.  And DOW Corning has a plant nearby.  They added a thousand people over the last year because of some help they got as well, and in their great reach, he's now working.  He's working at a decent salary.  And that community college is going to train this year -- another hundred people are going to go right from that training program directly to a job. 

    The President closed out his remarks referring critics to two other individuals: Blake Jones, Co-Founder of Namaste Solar in Boulder, and Charles Niederriter of Golden Triangle Construction Co. in Imperial, PA, who joined him and the Vice President today:

    But for those skeptics who refuse to believe the Recovery Act has done any good, who continue to insist that the bill didn't work, I'd ask you to take that argument up with Blake and his employees. Take that argument up with Chuck and his construction workers. Take it up with the Americans who are working in those battery plants, or building those new highways, or teaching our children new skills -- all because the Recovery Act made it possible.

    There's Blake:

    The President, Vice President, and Small Business Owners Mark the First Anniversary of the Recovery Act

    President Barack Obama makes a statement to business owners on the anniversary of the Recovery Act signing in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building February 17, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

  • "It Made for Good Sound Bytes"

    Last week, we told you how CNN had fact-checked the top ten items in a report issued by two opponents of the Recovery Act and found that nine of their top ten claims were false.

    • “We took a closer look at the Senators’ top ten examples of so-called waste.  We found that nine of the ten did not tell the whole story and in some cases were inaccurate.” [CNN, 1/25/10]

    But recently, CNN and others in the press have taken a look at #11 on the Senators’ list: which they call the “The Napa Wine Train” project, but is really a job creating flood protection project that will make the city of Napa safer while putting up to 600 people on the job.

    In their report, the Senators’ titled the project “All Aboard The Wine Train!,“ and imply that the Recovery Act is frivolously funding a three hour Napa Valley train tour:

    • “The Napa Wine Train has proven to be a popular tourist attraction, providing, ― a relaxing three hour journey along the thirty six-mile round-trip… through one of the world's most famous wine valleys. One of the most popular meals on the train is the $124 Vista Dome Lunch, where guests enjoy ―a complimentary glass of California sparkling wine [that] continues with a four course lunch of their choice.”

    Thankfully, CNN and others have recently corrected this report:

    • CNN said: “In fact, the money is not being spent on the wine train. The stimulus money is for a massive flood control project for the valley.” [CNN, 1/28/10]
    • A spokesperson for the Napa River Flood Control Project agreed, “This is perfectly fitting into what stimulus was intend to do. As you see here, people are on the job working today who may not be otherwise.” [CNN, 1/28/10]
    • And you can check with the Napa Wine Train folks, “The person who did the research for the senators didn't do a thorough job and I think if they had done a thorough job we wouldn't have been on the list at all.” [CNN, 1/28/10]

    Even the San Francisco Chronicle posted a blog calling out Senators’ McCain and Coburn:

    • “It made for good sound bytes: Obama's handing money to the rich liberals in California! (Lunch on the train runs into three figures.) But it turns out that's not what happened at all.  The stimulus is actually funding the Napa River Flood Project's efforts to elevate the train's tracks and build a flood wall at the depot. These projects are just a small part of an overall plan to manage flooding in the area.” [SF CHRONICLE]

    Here’s what’s really going on:

    • “Supporters of the project say the stimulus fund will create at least 600 jobs and those jobs are expected to last two to three years until the project is done. But that's for the whole flood project. The contractor expects the track work will employ some 200 people. Once complete it should mean Napa won't flood every few years.” [CNN, 1/28/10]

    As the President puts forward new measures to ensure every American who wants a job can get one, here’s what we know: 2 million jobs already funded by the Recovery Act, two quarters of GDP growth helping pave the road to recovery, and a flood protection project in Napa Valley is creating jobs while protecting a community against flooding.

    Here’s what we expect moving forward: as the President introduces new jobs measures like he did today, we hope that the Administration’s opponents get off the sidelines and engage in meaningful dialogue that will help rebuild America’s middle class.

    Jim Gilio is White House Spokesperson for the Recovery Act

  • New Reports from Recovery Act Recipients

    A short time ago, the independent Recovery and Transparency Board posted the latest round of reports from recipients of Recovery Act dollars on  These reports provide a detailed look at how a portion of Recovery Act spending was put to work in the last three months of last year creating jobs and boosting local economies.   

    If you visit, you will see how you can pull up the latest map, type in your zip code and zoom in to get a closer look at how some Recovery Act projects are unfolding right in your own backyard.  Take for example my hometown, the great city of Philadelphia.  If I zoom in on the map, I can see details on Recovery Act projects - including who the dollars went to, when they got them and how many workers were funded last quarter through them.  And if you zoom back out to look at all of last quarter’s reports, you’ll see the total number or workers these recipients reported paying in that three month period using this small portion of Recovery dollars.

    Now, you’ll notice I keep saying “some projects” and a “portion of spending” – that’s key here.  While these reports provide an extraordinary level of detail about Recovery Act projects, they only cover about $50 billion – or one fifth- of Recovery Act spending and tax relief through the end of last year.  Congress asked that these reports only be filed by a portion of Recovery Act recipients – specifically those putting the dollars to work in areas like infrastructure projects and education spending.

    So that gives you a pretty good sense of what the reports and related jobs numbers do include: the number of workers recipients of a small pool of Recovery Act funds report they funded in the last three months of 2009 with Recovery Act dollars.  That’s an informative sample that tells us a lot about the kinds of projects underway, how far along they are and what sort of direct employment impact they may be having.  But here is what they don’t show us:

    • Jobs funded by those dollars from previous or future quarters.  Remember, that $50 billion may have also funded jobs before October 1, 2009 – and may fund more jobs in the future.
    • The job impact of the other 80 percent of Recovery Act spending last quarter which includes things like small business loans, tax credits, and financial assistance for individuals and families – all of which are job-creators.
    •  Any jobs where the salary was not directly paid with Recovery Act dollars like the worker hired by the subcontractor for a government contract.  Or the worker hired by the asphalt quarry supplying asphalt for a half dozen Recovery Act projects.  Or the fast food worker hired because of the growing lunch rush due to a Recovery Act project underway across the street.

    It’s also important to keep in mind that posting this level of information about a Federal Government program in full public view like this is quite simply unprecedented -- it’s never been done before in the entire history of our government.  And these reports are no ordinary government-released reports.  They come directly from the recipients of Recovery dollars themselves -- people like local government employees, community organization administrators and small business owners who don’t count jobs for a living.  While these are honest efforts to be as accurate as possible, we know they’re not perfect. 

    With all of that in mind – just how many jobs has the Recovery Act created?  Is it the 599,108 number for this quarter posted on  Nope – remember, that represents just a portion of the job impact in the fourth quarter.  Is it that 599,108 number this quarter plus last quarter’s number?  No – both just account for a portion of spending and, since the method for counting was changed slightly this quarter to make it easier for recipients, the two numbers are pretty much apples and oranges.   The good news is that we already know the overall estimated job impact of the Recovery Act.  The Council of Economic Advisers recently released analysis that found the Recovery Act is already responsible for about 2 million jobs and the independent, non-partisan Congressional Budget Office agrees, putting the number at as many as 2.4 million jobs. 

    So what exactly does the roughly 600,000 jobs number tell us?  Well, that small portion of Recovery spending recipients say yielded about 600,000 jobs funded is right in line with our goal to create or save 3.5 million jobs through the Recovery Act by the end of 2010.   That’s good news for the millions of Americans across the country that have or will bring home a paycheck thanks to the Recovery Act.

    Ed DeSeve is Special Advisor to the President

  • More Faces of Recovery

    Yesterday, we introduced you to some of the many people CNN has met through their Stimulus Project who are finding work, growing their businesses, buying their first homes and receiving needed financial assistance thanks to the Recovery Act.  Here are even more Americans who have told CNN the Recovery Act is making a difference for their families and their communities.

    Kitty Schaller, the head of MANNA Food Bank in Asheville, North Carolina says the Recovery Act has helped "provide for the most basic needs for people who are truly in need." "The economic stimulus package has helped us to provide for the most basic needs for people who are truly in need.” [CNN, 1/26/10]

    Peter Wilf, a researcher at Penn State University, says his Recovery Act research grant is "stimulating the economy." “I want to mention this [funding] was not just for me, this is for 17 investigators and their students. It's not just for Penn State but many institutions. We are stimulating the economy. We have numerous people working under this grant. The money is circulating, a percentage of it, back into the US economy and we also feel that exciting science is good for the US economy. So, yes, I’m proud now that we are in this program.  I’m proud of it and I'm happy to wear the badge.” [CNN, 1/26/10

    Mayor John Fetterman, of Braddock, PA says the Recovery Act has "helped a great deal" and is "very beneficial." “It has helped a great deal. We have got about $250,000 to upgrade our sewer system to be in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency. And not sexy kind of things, or head-line grabbing but still necessary in a community like Braddock where we are having to raise taxes because of revenue loss. We also got a smaller grant that allowed us to hire 30 young people, very beneficial.” [CNN, 1/26/10]

    Steven Kyle, an economics professor at Cornell University, says the Recovery Act is "stimulating the economy." “Sure it's stimulating the economy. That food is produced here in the United States. That stimulates the U.S. economy. Those farmers then end up with more money and they turn around and buy more equipment, hire more laborers, maybe they buy themselves a new caterpillar tractor. Who knows?” [CNN, 1/26/10]

    Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta says "the stimulus definitely saved jobs"and helped "avert furloughs of teachers, firefighters and state patrolmen."  “The stimulus definitely saved jobs. Were it not for the stimulus, thousands of state employees ran the risk of being furloughed or laid off... I was in the state senate at the time and we had a large hole in our budget. Those stimulus dollars did help to avert furloughs of teachers, firefighters and state patrolmen.” [CNN, 1/26/10]

    Mayor Phil Gordon, of Phoenix, says that because of the Recovery Act, "thousands of people are going back to work." "The picture in Phoenix, Arizona, is clear: Because of ARRA, key projects are under way, our environment is improving -- and thousands of people are going back to work." [, 1/25/10]

    James Ceaton, a construction worker from Phoenix, said he "would still be out of a job" if it weren't for the Recovery Act. "Without the stimulus I would still be out of a job." [, 1/25/10]

    Jeanne Simons, a seventh- and eighth-grade teacher in Phoenix, AZ says without the Recovery Act, she would have lost her teaching position. "Last year, she was told that if ARRA funds were not approved, she would lose her teaching position. If her position had been eliminated, the remaining teachers would have faced class sizes of between 40 and 50 students -- a daunting task for any educator to face.” [, 1/25/10]

    Liz Oxhorn is Recovery Act Communications Director