Today marks the one year anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. President Barack Obama will commemorate the milestone with remarks on the economy later this morning.
In the meantime, Obama has dispatched administration officials to over 35 communities across the country “to survey Recovery Act progress to-date and continue the Administration’s push for additional job creation measures to put more people back to work.”
In his report to the President, Vice President Joe Biden says “approximately 2 million jobs have been created or saved thanks to the Act’s impact on hiring in the private sector, by local and state governments and by non-profits.”
Nearly departed Sen. Evan Bayh isn’t as sanguine. When asked about his future plans, Bayh said:
If I could create one job in the private sector by helping to grow a business, that would be one more than Congress has created in the last six months.
Bayh’s parting shot must hurt, but his view is shared by 94 percent of Americans. A CBS News/New York Times poll found that only six percent of Americans think the stimulus package has created any jobs.
Job creation, or more accurately, joblessness is a sore point for African Americans. A new report from the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, “ARRA and the Economic Crisis: One Year Later,” found the impact of stimulus spending is even. The Recovery Act has had mixed results in assisting those most impacted by the Great Recession:
White unemployment has started to decrease (from a peak of 9.4% in October 2009 to 8.7% in January 2010), while Black unemployment rates continues to rise (from 15.5% to 16.5% during the same time period).ARRA has done little for minority business enterprises’ bottom line:
Contracting and procurement are the primary ways ARRA can directly benefit private businesses and employers. Minority and disadvantaged business contracting is a critical source of job and wealth creation for marginalized groups and communities. Many concerns have been raised about the ability of minority firms to successfully compete for contracts. Although consistent state level data on ARRA contracting to minority firms is not widely available, figures from federal procurement indicate troubling and disparate contracting patterns. While Black‐, Latino‐, and Women‐ owned businesses represent 5.2%, 6.8%, and 28.2% of all businesses respectively, as of February 1, 2010, they had only received 1.1%, 1.6%, and 2.4% of all federally contracted ARRA funds.13 Of the $45 billion in direct federal contracts allocated by February 1st 2010, less than $2.4 billion (5% of the total) were allocated to Black‐, Latino‐, and Women‐ owned businesses.
So on the first anniversary of the Recovery Act, black folks are more likely to pop a gasket than pop a cork.