According to a new report, the federal stimulus act of 2009 paid for 61,000 jobs in Florida in the third quarter of 2010, the most of any state in the country.
The federal report on stimulus spending says Florida now has spent $4.3 billion of the $11 billion in stimulus money awarded to it. In the three months that ended Sept. 30, that paid for the equivalent of 61,725 full-time jobs created or saved.
Most of the jobs went to educators — 47,005 teachers and schools support staff, supported by huge federal education grants that Florida received, including the nationally competitive “race to the top” $261 million award Florida grabbed in July. Many of those teachers would have been laid off by their districts had the stimulus money not been there.
Other jobs being credited to the stimulus include 2,825 people helping build highways; 2,627 people hired to expand Florida’s programs to retrain workers and provide other services to unemployed; and 1,176 people employed to build new water system projects around the state.
California was second in stimulus jobs during the quarter, with 50,071. Nationally, the stimulus money created or saved 671,607 full-time jobs, the report said.
Florida reported that it created or saved 40,603 full-time stimulus jobs in the previous quarter, which ended June 30.
Florida officials contend the actual job counts are higher, because of the way the federal rules tabulate jobs. According to the state’s unofficial count, about 120,000 people received paychecks funded by stimulus money in July, August and September, said Don Winstead, Florida economic stimulus special advisor.
“Clearly, still the area where you have the most employment impact is education. Obviously, there is a lot of the education budget that was related to the stimulus,” Winstead said. “All the highway money is committed. There is a lot of construction going on.”
Still, the stimulus has not turned around Florida’s unemployment trends. Florida’s jobless rate was 11.9 percent in September, and it was 9.4 percent when President Obama signed the bill in February 2009.
So far, Florida has spent about 38.9 percent of the stimulus jobs grants money it has been awarded. Nationally, about 44 percent of the jobs money has been spent.