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Federal Stimulus

Crunching June Stimulus Numbers: Roads Create Pricier Jobs Than Transit

2:41 PM EDT on August 19, 2009

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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