In one of President Obama’s first big moves as President, he announced a $787 billion stimulus package that was intended to give a kickstart to the economy. One of the purposes of the money was job creation, and he specifically predicted that 4 million jobs would be either saved or created thanks to the massive stimulus. This was several months ago, and unemployment has marched steadily higher since then. The lack of apparent job creation is putting some heat on the Obama administration as nearly 10% of Americans are actively looking for jobs and millions more are stuck with jobs that make them unhappy. To his credit, President Obama warned that it would take time to see the impact of these stimulus dollars. After the last recession ended in 2001, job losses continued for over a year before employment numbers started to improve. Still, it’s worth taking a look at where the stimulus dollars have gone and what kind of impact they have had, as well as the potential impact left in the dollars that have not been spent yet. – State Spending: Over ten percent of the stimulus dollars have been awarded California, the most populated state in the US and one with an economy smaller than only 7 nations in the world. Of the $12.3 billion given to the state, over $5 billion has already been spent. According to stats released recently, the money saved or created 100,000 jobs so far in California alone this year. Similar statistics are available for every state, where citizens can track the amount of money awarded, the amount of money spent, and specific projects that the funds have helped to fund. Some of the job creation numbers are foggy, as states report only jobs that can be directly attributed to stimulus dollars while federal numbers include jobs that are saved or created indirectly as a result of the spending. An example of this would be restaurant workers who are able to keep their jobs because they work near a site where jobs have been created or saved from stimulus dollars. – Available Funds: In all, $499 billion in stimulus dollars are available for spending. Much of the spending will be done by states and some will be used to fund federal projects. More than $132 billion is still available and has not been promised to any state or project. Another $256 billion has been made available to spend but has not yet been claimed by states, agencies, or municipalities. Some of the agencies responsible for granting the money have specific criteria that need to be met before the funds are awarded with the goal of making sure that the money is spent on projects that have been effectively planned and are designed to create or save jobs. – Tax Savings: If you believe the numbers being thrown around by the government, 97% of American households will see some form of tax savings as a result of the stimulus package. The most common tax savings are coming in the form of less money being taken in federal withholding from each paycheck. Other tax savings and incentive plans include the $8000 credit for first time homebuyers, the ability to deduct sales tax on auto purchases, and tax credits for people paying college tuition.
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