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Official: About 30,800 in Mass. got stimulus jobs

Associated Press | 5/5/2010, 4:51 a.m.

About 30,800 individuals in Massachusetts have received a stimulus-funded paycheck since the federal program was first launched in February 2009, the Patrick administration said last week.

In just the past three months, officials said they’ve been able to save or create the equivalent of about 6,400 full-time jobs in Massachusetts.

Of that number, just 1,536 are considered newly created jobs, compared with 4,865 jobs that were considered saved as a result of the spending.

All told, officials said 16,137 individuals have found some kind of full- or part-time work in Massachusetts in the past three months because of the federal program.

Officials said about 21 percent of the total number of the saved and created jobs were in the private sector. The rest were government jobs.

The administration said that only reflects money funneled through state agencies and not money awarded directly from the federal government to private companies and research institutions, so the number including private-sector jobs is even higher.

Jeffrey Simon, director of the Massachusetts Recovery and Reinvestment Office, said the number of non-government jobs paid for in part with stimulus dollars shows the money is flowing to the private sector and nonprofit groups.

“We’re very, very proud and encouraged by the progress that we’ve made,” Simon said. “We are not ready to put up the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner, but we feel very encouraged that people are getting back to work.”

Critics have faulted the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, suggesting the overall number of jobs hasn’t warranted the amount of money spent. The critics question counting the “saved” jobs as part of the total.

Simon said the state spent $182 million in stimulus money the first three months of the year. He said that helped pay for highway construction efforts and clean-water and drinking-water projects across the state.

All told, Simon said, Massachusetts has spent $3.2 billion out of $5.1 billion allocated to it so far. He said the state is expected to ultimately receive more than $6 billion, not counting money funneled directly to private groups.

The stimulus program is set to end in May 2011, he said.

Gov. Deval Patrick said behind each number, there is someone with a job, taking home a paycheck as a result of the spending.

“Sometimes people think of the Recovery Act as an abstraction, but the positive impact is real,” Patrick said in a written statement. “Ask any one of the over 16,000 men and women who got back to work in the last three months.”

Patrick said the state has met every deadline for using the recovery money, including awarding the state’s entire $438 million of stimulus highway funding a month ahead of schedule.

Simon said the state is also benefiting from a more aggressive bidding process from highway construction contractors desperate for work.

He said bids have come in significantly below expectations, meaning the state can spread the remaining money around and do more projects.

Associated Press