Katie Hallen -- "Show me the jobs" may be the most repeated phrase in Washington. With the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's implementation last year, many of us have been interested in tracking the progress of the stimulus funds and how they are leading to U.S. job creation.
But tracking the stimulus jobs has not been the easiest of tasks. The website Recovery.gov, set up by the Obama administration to make the stimulus process transparent with easy public access to data, has repeatedly come under fire for inaccurate information. ABC News back in November reported on a stimulus "success story" - Arizona's 15th congressional district used $761,420 in federal stimulus spending to create or save 30 jobs. Sounds great, if it were true. Arizona doesn't even have a 15th district. The Obama administration quickly fixed the mistake.
GOP leaders had a field day when blogger Matt Drudge documented millions of stimulus dollars going toward ham and cheese. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack rushed to clarify the canned and processed goods were going toward the Emergency Food Assistance Program to stock soup kitchens and food banks.
Then, there was Vice President Biden making a push for Recovery.gov in one of his speeches when he accidently directed people to "Recovery.org," the private sector site set up to track the stimulus. The Washington Post complimented Biden on the slip, noting that the private site had better information than the government version - whoops!
But let's get back to the jobs question. Recovery.gov says that 599,108 U.S. jobs were reportedly created from October 1 to December 31, thanks to stimulus funds. Curious how many jobs were created in your state and city? Use the interactive map to search for that data down to the zip code.
Other useful tools:
Socrata breaks down stimulus jobs by congressional district and makes it easy to splice and dice the data and tailor your own views. If your a data geek, you can even upload your own spreadsheets to this site and use their free tools to customize the look and feel of your numbers. Here is an example of how they organize potential stimulus jobs.
Recovery.org, created by software company Onvia, projects that stimulus spending will create 1.1 million jobs in 2010. Its interactive map is perhaps the best at breaking down stimulus funding at the project level. For instance, in Jefferson County, Col., there are 1,327 ongoing stimulus projects valued at more than $4 billion.
FedBizOpps.gov, where the U.S. government releases publicly available contracts, also has a search engine for stimulus jobs.
MSNBC's Stimulus Tracker helpfully maps out stimulus funding by industry. The construction and building supply industries lead the way, with more than $88 billion in total contracts. IT/telecommunications has $1.5 billion, with healthcare at around $260 million.
StimulusWatch, managed by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, allows citizens to post and rate "shovel-ready" projects that could benefit from stimulus dollars. Organizers say they want to help the government make smart choices and hold public officials accountable.
New York City has also made strides to report stimulus activity, with the NYC Stimulus Tracker. Atheistically, their website is closer to Excel 101 than Government 2.0, but still, it's interesting to see that federal stimulus dollars saved or created more than 15,000 education jobs.
Tracking the stimulus and the jobs it creates will be a monumental task, and it relies heavily on accurate reporting on grant and loan applications down to the state and local level. Moreover, some remain skeptical that the stimulus job boom will last for any great length of time, particularly once we get into 2011 and the funding starts to dwindle.
Despite its hurdles and imperfections, it's impressive to see such a vast commitment to transparency from the federal government. So, help me follow the money and find the jobs. Which sites do you use for your sleuthing?