Tuesday, October 13, 2009

State Stimulus Reports Are In, But We Need to Know More

October 10th was the deadline for states to submit their first stimulus funding reports. While the information will not be available to the public until October 30th on, it is a good time to look at the goals of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and whether it is possible to evaluate progress. The goals were: (1) To preserve and create jobs and promote economic recovery. (2) To assist those most impacted by the recession. (3) To provide investments needed to increase economic efficiency by spurring technological advances in science and health. (4) To invest in transportation, environmental protection, and other infrastructure that will provide long-term economic benefits. (5) To stabilize State and local government budgets, in order to minimize and avoid reductions in essential services and counterproductive state and local tax increases.

There is significant anecdotal evidence that jobs may have been preserved, investments were made in science, health and infrastructure, and that state budgets were helped. But has the stimulus "assisted those most impacted by the recession"?

A new report from the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI) puts into sharp relief the impact of the recession on communities and people of color. Examining data from the Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, CSI looks at unemployment, wages, rates of insurance coverage and poverty. In each area people of color are falling farther behind, as shown by the unemployment numbers:
  • Unemployment for Black men ages 20-29 has skyrocketed by 14.1% to a devastating 26.5%.

  • For young, Latino men unemployment has increased by 8.8% to 14.2%.

  • Unemployment among young black women has increased by 8.6% to 20.4%.

  • Today, 14.6% of Latina women in that age category are unemployed – an increase of 7.2%
    since the start of the recession.

The report concludes with a clear and specific finding- that stimulus funding and reporting must address communities of color in order to achieve the goals of economic recovery. In the days leading up to October 30th, or when the reports are made public, we may learn more about whether the goal of assisting those most in need is being addressed in a meaningful way. For now, the data suggests state policymakers may need to focus more of their efforts in this area. Watch this space for updates to the guidance for state policymakers on using the stimulus funding.

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