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February 16, 2010
4:22 PM

The Recovery Act at One Year: New Jobs Data Show Growing Advantage from Stimulus Investments in Public Transportation

WASHINGTON - February 16 - Through the end of 2010, stimulus investments in public transportation have created almost twice as many jobs per dollar as highway spending - and the advantage is growing.

The most recent data from states, recently made available by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, shows that every billion dollars spent on public transportation produced 19,299 job-months, compared to 10,493 job-months for every billion spent on highway infrastructure. That difference has grown by more than 1,000 job-months over the last two months of official state spending reports.

The new data confirms the findings announced in "What We Learned From the Stimulus," a report the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG), the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), and Smart Growth America (SGA) co-released earlier this year.

"As the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) hits its one-year anniversary, and as Congress considers additional job creation measures to spur the economy, these differences are important," said Phineas Baxandall, Senior Analyst at U.S. PIRG.

Public transportation projects create more jobs than road projects because they spend less money on land and more on labor, and because the public transportation projects are often more complex, whether laying track or manufacturing vehicles.  According to a report from the White House's Council of Economic Advisors, in the fourth quarter, transit was the sector which created the most jobs of all the clean energy investments made with ARRA funds.

"Not only do public transportation investments create more jobs, more quickly than highways... We now see the gap widening over time as the stimulus advances," Baxandall added. "If job creation was an Olympic event, public transportation would already be laps ahead... At the one-year mark, the job-creation results from investments in public transit are laps ahead of the highway spending, and it isn't even close."

U.S. PIRG, CNT, and the SGA updated their January report to mark the one-year-anniversary of President Obama's signing of the stimulus package.

"Shifting as much of our transportation spending to the most job-intensive activities as we can is essential," said the CNT's Scott Bernstein. "The Senate should pass companion legislation to the House's Jobs for Main Street bill, and make it effective by giving transit spending parity with highways."

"States have put more than $22.6 billion of transportation stimulus funds under contract," said Geoff Anderson, President of SGA. "We've gotten a lot of vital projects for that money - and we've also learned a lot. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner just said ‘Our basic test should be: what's going to add jobs?' At the stimulus's one-year mark, we've learned that the answer is ‘more public transportation.'"

U.S. PIRG also recently released a report which lays out the advantages of high-speed rail.

Among other findings, The Right Track shows that a national high-speed rail network that competes with inter-city commuter air travel could create up to 1.6 million construction jobs, cut our energy consumption, improve travel, and assist in the resurgence of American manufacturing.



U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), stands up to powerful special interests on behalf of the American public, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being. With a strong network of researchers, advocates, organizers and students in state capitols across the country, we take on the special interests on issues, such as product safety,political corruption, prescription drugs and voting rights,where these interests stand in the way of reform and progress.


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