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Stimulus Funds Yet to Be Spent

Billions of dollars of stimulus funds created in the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act remain in state coffers, Alec MacGillis reports at The Washington Post. On the downside, that means funds have not yet boosted the economy; on the upside, the funds remain to help boost the economy.

Administration officials say the stimulus remains on schedule, with 70 percent expected to be spent by Sept. 30. And some economists note that the sluggish economy will still need a boost until 2012, the deadline for spending most stimulus cash.

“Some stuff is taking a longer time to have an impact, but we still have over 9 percent unemployment,” said John Irons of the Economic Policy Institute. “The fact that we still have dollars coming on line now should not be seen as a negative.”

Many of the unspent funds lie in programs portrayed from the outset as true long-term investments, such as $8 billion for high-speed rail, $17 billion for health information technology and $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health. But other programs that had been viewed as quicker job-generators are also taking a while to get rolling.

One positive note: Much of the money is tied up in programs to help green cities and build infrastructure — highly labor-intensive, and therefore job-creating, tasks.

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