Crunching June Stimulus Numbers: Roads Create Pricier Jobs Than Transit

Transportation spending under the economic stimulus law created
close to 15,000 jobs in June, or three times as many as were created in
May, according to estimates released today by the U.S. DOT.

Those
numbers are bound to hearten Obama administration officials who have
defended the stimulus’ 6-percent investment in infrastructure in the
face of congressional criticism.

But they also lend credence to transit advocates who have long promoted their sector’s ability to create the "green jobs" the White House craves.

Using the June job-creation numbers given by
the U.S. DOT and the monthly stimulus spending totals at each agency,
provided to Streetsblog Capitol Hill by a source with direct knowledge
of the process, what follows is a rough but reliable estimate of the
cost of creating transportation stimulus jobs.

  • For
    the Federal Highway Administration, which spent about $291 million in
    June and reported "more than 8,600 direct jobs," according to the DOT,
    each job generated cost between $33,452 and $33,833.
  • For
    the Federal Transit Administration, which spent about $139 million in
    June and reported "an estimated 4,400 jobs," according to the DOT, each
    job generated cost about $31,600.

Again, it bears repeating that the estimating job creation is far from an exact science. A recent investigation by ProPublica found
that state highway departments have had a particularly difficult time
accounting for temporary and part-time workers in data they provide to
the government.

Nonetheless, transit looks to be a more
efficient job creator than highways during the stimulus’ biggest month
yet for transportation. Yet airports did even better: the Federal
Aviation Administration spent about $28.5 million in June and created
"almost 1,700 direct jobs," which means each job generated cost between
$16,775 and $17,262.

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