Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Which states does the White House believe will be the biggest winners from the $787 billion package?

In Pictures: The 10 Most Stimulated States

WASHINGTON, D.C.--When President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Tuesday, he let loose a $787 billion tidal wave of money aimed at getting the stalled economy moving again. But not everyone, everywhere will share in it equally.
In terms of raw jobs and raw cash, it's no surprise that California--the biggest state, staggering under one of the nation's worst unemployment rates--is the biggest beneficiary. What is surprising: On a per capita basis, it is smaller states--where unemployment is not as large a problem--that will get the most help, according to White House data released before the signing ceremony.




Of the 10 smallest states (including the District of Columbia), six are estimated to receive the largest per capita job creation. So while California, Texas, New York and Florida, the four biggest states, get the most total jobs, it is some of the smallest states--Wyoming, Washington, D.C., Vermont, North and
South Dakota, and Delaware that are getting the biggest boost per citizen.
Several of the biggest recipients on a per-person basis also have the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. Depending on one's perspective, that's either aid for those who don't need it, or it's rightfully not withholding funds from states that have done a good job keeping their economies in order.


The four states in the country with the lowest unemployment rates all make the list--Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska. All four states had unemployment of 4% or lower in December, while the national average was 7.2%. Since December, the national average has jumped further to 7.6% and is expected to jump again in February.
The White House estimates are based off assumptions from "The Job Impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan," written by Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein. Romer was a member of the National Bureau of Economic Research business cycle dating committee, the arbiter of recessions in the U.S., until leaving to chair President Obama's Council of Economic Advisers.



The estimates from the White House combined Romer and Bernstein's analysis of how many jobs were likely to be created in different sectors with data on state economies, such as the industrial composition of each state.

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The $787 billion stimulus was controversial legislation, obviously, with politicians and economists debating what would be the most effective use of stimulus and whether the administration's job creation claims were realistic. The Congressional Budget Office has questioned whether or not the government is even capable of spending such a large amount of money in two years. Ultimately, nobody knows whether or not the legislation can achieve its goal of creating 3.5 million jobs in two years. Nothing of this scope has ever been attempted before.

What is agreed is that states are hobbled by unemployment and collapsing tax revenues. In December, in California, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 1.7 million people were unemployed--a rate of 9.3%. But even that is lower than the 9.5% unemployment rate in South Carolina, 10% in Rhode Island and 10.6% in Michigan.

The Democrats (and three Republicans) who supported the legislation now have their futures largely tied to the goals they outlined: 109,000 jobs for Michigan, 396,000 jobs for California, 3.5 million jobs nationwide. At a price tag of $787 billion, they better hope they are right.

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