Analyzing the Stimulus

Shortly after President Obama took office in early 2009, Congress passed a $787 billion stimulus package that included billions of dollars in flexible transportation funding for states and metro areas. As the money started flowing out of Washington, Smart Growth America worked with our partners to provide sound advice and recommendations on how to spend that money to provide the greatest bang for our buck — quickly creating the most jobs while investing in the kinds of transportation infrastructure we desperately need. These reports examine how federal stimulus funds were spent and which methods created jobs and provided the best long term return on investment.

Recent Lessons from the Stimulus: Transportation Spending and Job Creation
February, 2011
A new report from Smart Growth America analyzes states’ investments in infrastructure to determine whether they made the best use of their spending based on job creation numbers. “Recent Lessons from the Stimulus: Transportation Funding and Job Creation” evaluates how successful states have been in creating jobs with their flexible $26.6 billion of transportation funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). Those results should guide governors and other leaders in revitalizing America’s transportation system, maximizing job creation from transportation dollars and rebuilding the economy.

Click here to read more about and download a full version of “Recent Lessons from the Stimulus.”

What We Learned from the Stimulus
January 5, 2010
The latest data on stimulus spending show that funds spent on public transportation were a more effective job creator than stimulus funds spent on highways. This analysis shows that in the first ten months of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), investments in public transportation created twice as many jobs per dollar as investments in highways.

Through the end of 2009, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) investments in public transportation produced almost twice as many jobs per dollar as investments made in roads: Every billion dollars spent on public transportation produced 19,299 job-months. Every billion dollars spent on projects funded under highway infrastructure programs produced 10,493 job-months. As Congress and the Administration discuss a possible jobs bill, the implication is clear: shifting available funds toward public transportation will increase the resulting employment.

Click here for more information about What We Learned from the Stimulus and its associated materials.

States and the Stimulus: 120 day report
June 29, 2009
In February 2009’s $787 billion stimulus bill, Congress provided states with $26.6 billion in flexible funds for transportation projects. The stimulus funding arrived at a time of embarrassingly large backlogs of road and bridge repairs, inadequate and underfunded public transportation systems, and too-few convenient, affordable transportation options. 120 days into the stimulus, the point by which states and territories were required to have obligated 50 percent of the flexible money granted them for transportation projects by the federal government, we took this hard look at where the money was spent, asking the question: Did states use their flexible money to make progress on these pressing needs?

Smart Growth America found some forward looking states and communities that used the stimulus money as flexibly as possible, repairing roads and bridges and making the kinds of smart, 21st century transportation investments that their communities need to support strong economic growth. Other states and communities missed a golden opportunity to create jobs while making progress on their most pressing transportation needs. These states spent their precious funds on building new roads rather than repairing existing roads, and ignored the chance to spend the money flexibly on the kinds of options that their residents really want — like public transportation or streets safe for walking and biking — leaving their communities stuck in traffic and stuck in the past.

Click here for more information and to download the report.

The Best Stimulus for the Money
April 14, 2009
Are all transportation projects of equal value to long-term economic growth? If not, is it possible to select projects with better return and still move money and employ people in the economy quickly? Smart Growth America commissioned the following papers to answer these questions.

The findings are encouraging. The research shows there is ample opportunity to pursue long-term prosperity through projects that are “shovel ready” — provided we pick the right projects. The research results are doubly encouraging because, though immediate economic needs have taken center stage, transportation’s impact on equity, neighborhoods, energy security, and the environment remains. Real-world results show that transportation projects that help the nation meet these broader challenges are frequently the same projects that deliver the best short-term job production and long term economic returns.

This document is a compilation of ten briefing papers produced by the Metropolitan Research Center at the University of Utah. Topics include: Facilitating economies through stimulus spending, maximizing job creation, and adding value to real estate through stimulus spending.

Download “The Best Stimulus for the Money (PDF).