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ARRA Debate Heats Up

January 20, 2010

The Associated Press touched off a firestorm recently with its analysis regarding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  Stimulus spending, the AP asserted, “had no effect on unemployment and only barely helped the beleaguered construction industry.”

Associated Pennsylvania Constructors and the American Road & Transportation Builders Association took issue with the AP analysis.  APC’s Robert Latham estimates that the $1 billion in highway stimulus funds sent to Pennsylvania sustained about 7,000 jobs last year and helped keep construction companies in business at a time when commercial projects are nearly non-existent. 

Alison Premo Black, ARTBA senior economist & vice president of policy, noted that “thanks to ARRA, overall investment in highway, bridge and transit projects was up 12 percent through November 2009 and the market should continue to be stable, if not grow slightly—absent additional state and local funding cuts—through this year.  That means hundreds of thousands of Americans were able to hold jobs over the past 10 months that otherwise would have been lost and many more were created where market conditions made them possible.”

“Nobody in the industry will tell you that ARRA was a panacea,” said PHIA Managing Director Jason Wagner.  “But certainly it was helpful.  For a sustained, longer term recovery, the industry needs Congress and the Obama administration to renew a multi-year surface transportation measure, and to do it as quickly as possible.”

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