State officials around the U.S. had an ambitious deadline to meet on Saturday—the first comprehensive report on how stimulus money is affecting the nation. Early estimates are showing that federal stimulus money has created or preserved 11,800 jobs in Minnesota. When you add in jobs that were indirectly created by stimulus funds, over 20,000 total jobs were created or saved.
For Minnesota, the stimulus money could not have come at a better time. Management and Budget Commissioner Tom Hanson said that the biggest impact for Minnesota has come from money that offset state budget cuts from the summer, according to MPR. The cuts and unallotment have meant that cities in Minnesota must examine their budgets with a fine-tooth comb, often at the expense of teachers and public safety officials. Of the 11,800 created or saved, the report estimates that 5,900 were education jobs and 1,200 public safety jobs. These are nurses, counselors, teachers, firefighters, and policemen who, without the stimulus funds, would have found themselves needing to apply for unemployment benefits thanks to reckless budget cuts.
Minnesota has seen other impacts of stimulus spending that were not included on the report, such as awards made to cities and counties, tax incentives to individuals, federal medical assistance, and unemployment benefits. Thanks to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Department of Transportation has completed 24 construction projects and has over 100 more underway. When you take these kinds of things into account, the impact of federal stimulus on the state of Minnesota is much higher than the report suggests. Star Tribune has also reported that indirect job growth has increased due to the federal stimulus dollars:
Management and Budget Commissioner Tom Hanson said statistics showed that the stimulus money "puts people to work," and was having a "snowball effect" by indirectly sparking more job growth. As an example, he said, a highway construction job in Minnesota made possible with federal stimulus money might cause a company to buy a bulldozer from Tennessee that also meant jobs for workers at an out-of-state factory.
The stimulus bill is intended specifically for the purpose having a “snowball effect.” Although this data is preliminary, Senior Vice President for Public Affairs and Economic Development at the MN Chamber of Commerce Bill Blazar told MPR that most of the business people he represents feel that Minnesota’s economy would be in much worse shape without the stimulus funds. This preliminary report on the impact of federal stimulus funds in Minnesota highlights how crucial that money was in retaining some of the most important jobs in our state: educators and public safety officials. The federal funds also supplemented unemployment benefits for those unfortunate enough to lose their jobs, whether it was due to the economic downturn or irresponsible budget cuts in Minnesota, or both.
Photo Credit: MN Department of Transportation