I was disappointed to read today that the Associated Press does not believe that the Recovery Act is doing a good job creating work for Americans who are unemployed.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
At the Department of Transportation, we’ve got $48 billion to rebuild roads, bridges, highways, airport runways, ports and transit projects. And we have already signed off on transportation projects in all 50 states. Just 12 weeks after President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, we have approved 2,800 road projects and another 300 airport projects.
That’s over $10 billion out the door and countless Americans going back to work. By this summer, Americans won’t be able to drive down the street without seeing people working at good-paying jobs, thanks to this money.
Unfortunately, the AP’s analysis is misguided. Its reporters looked at 5,500 transportation projects from state lists and concluded that the transportation money is going to counties with low unemployment. But until the states make a request and the experts at the Department of Transportation certify that a project meets the criteria for Recovery dollars, those lists are not the final word.
Basically, their work amounts to nothing more than an academic exercise.
For people who are out of work and at risk of losing their jobs, this construction work is a godsend. Sadly, unemployed workers can be found all over our nation in these difficult economic times - even in counties that don’t have the highest unemployment rates.
Governmental boundaries are often arbitrary, and workers know that. People who work construction jobs often drive to wherever they can find work in a metropolitan area or region. Our idea is to drive down unemployment, period.
I told Brett Blackledge from the Associated Press about a recent trip I took to New Hampshire for a groundbreaking on highway 101. I shook hands with men and women who are going back to work thanks to the Recovery Act. One man told me that he drives all over New England for construction jobs. Another said he is the father of four children and was unemployed until this project began. Now that he has this job, he will be commuting from Wolfeboro.
Unfortunately, Brett didn’t think it was worth quoting me when I told him that the point of the program is to put people to work. And that’s something I’m proud of.