Are stimulus dollars creating jobs in Houston?

November 18, 2009 9:26:32 PM PST
The federal government's watchdog said Wednesday that tens of thousands of stimulus jobs were created without spending any money. It sounds too hard to believe and likely is. Mistakes in reporting stimulus successes were the focus of a congressional hearing, and mistakes and confusion in Texas are the focus of Ted Oberg's story. When we started looking at Texas data, we found some of the very same things ABC News found on a national level. Stimulus dollars have created jobs in and around Houston but finding out how many and at what cost to you isn't easy.

METRO is the biggest Houston-area stimulus recipient. The transit agency got $87 million federal dollars to convert HOV lanes to toll lanes and start the construction of the new light rail lines.

But when it comes to new or saved jobs, your $87 million federal tax dollars have so far created three and one-half jobs at METRO. That's it. But don't think we're beating up on METRO.

When we added up all the federal money awarded in the Houston area, it came up to $1.3 billion. And all those tax dollars have so far created a reported 1,104.4 jobs. When you do the math - and we did - each of those jobs cost $1.1 million apiece.

There's no way the stimulus jobs pay that much It comes down to the amount of reporting agencies are doing once they get your money. And look for yourself. Of the 20 largest stimulus awards, only three of them report creating jobs yet. Some will hire next year, others are just reporting errors.

This is odd, too. We found stimulus money spent in each of Texas' 32 congressional districts, but we found $30 million extra dollars spent in 13 districts that don't exist anywhere in Texas.

It's your money and the Obama administration promised to show you where it's going. We'll continue to try and find it.

The man in charge of the stimulus program for the Obama administration told Congress he can't verify all the claims on the website. You can click on the recovery.gov site to dig into it yourself.


Load Comments