Stimulus credited for 24,103 Ga. jobs

In all, these agencies and businesses were allocated $4.8 billion in stimulus funds between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, and received $2 billion of that amount.

Nationwide, recipients of federal stimulus dollars tied 599,108 jobs to the spending during that time frame.

State government agencies accounted for $457.4 million of Georgia’s stimulus funds during the quarter and 20,007 of the jobs, mostly for teachers, college professors, police officers and other public positions.

Critics say the economic stimulus program has done little to help private industry, while driving up the federal deficit. They also point out that the state and national unemployment rates have risen since President Barack Obama signed the stimulus bill — dubbed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act — in February.

Proponents point to encouraging signs such as a recent U.S. Commerce Department estimate showing gross domestic product — a measure of economic health — increased at an annual rate of 5.7 percent during the fourth quarter of last year. And the White House Council of Economic Advisors has attributed 1.5 million to 2 million jobs to stimulus spending so far across the nation.

It’s impossible to tally the total number of jobs that have been created or retained with stimulus dollars to date in Georgia and across the nation because the White House recently ordered changes in the way those jobs are counted.

The government previously told recipients of stimulus dollars to count only jobs that were created and filled as a result of the spending, or existing jobs “that would not have been continued” if not for the spending. In December, however, it released new guidelines that require recipients to count all jobs funded with federal stimulus dollars, whether those jobs were in jeopardy or not. For example, raises paid for with federal stimulus dollars are now counted as fractions of jobs.

The new guidelines, which apply to the fourth-quarter report, also require recipients to count jobs on a quarterly basis and not cumulatively. So from now on, the public will see only a three-month snapshot of jobs funded with stimulus dollars on the federal Web site recovery.gov.

Under the bill that created the spending program in February, agencies that receive the taxpayer money are required to report quarterly to the government on how they are spending it. Those reports for the fourth quarter of 2009 were posted on recovery.gov for the public to see Saturday.

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