The latest official estimate of work created by the federal stimulus reflects a more modest position for Washington than the one released last fall.
The federal government credits the stimulus with more than 14,400 Washington jobs created or saved in the fourth quarter of 2009, behind 10 other states and Puerto Rico.
Estimates from the previous reporting period found stimulus money creating or retaining 34,500 jobs, more than any other state except California and New York. But that included paychecks for 24,000 teachers who were already contracted to finish out the school year and would not have been laid off without the money.
Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office said education accounted for fewer than 2,000 jobs in the latest round.
Gregoire said Monday that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has kept her state from “falling off a cliff.”
“Without the stimulus dollars Congress invested in Washington state, more of our people would be out of work,” Gregoire told reporters.
Nationwide, the Obama administration estimates nearly 600,000 jobs created by the $787 billion stimulus that it pushed through Congress.
Throughout 2009, the state received $7.4 billion in stimulus help. Nearly $1 billion had been spent by the end of the year.
Republicans have been skeptical of the stimulus’s effects, citing the state’s 9.5 percent unemployment rate.
State leaders can’t rely on one-time stimulus money to reinvent the economy, said Rep. Skip Priest, R-Federal Way, and ranking Republican on the House Education Appropriations Committee.
“Short-term fixes ultimately don’t lead to long-term solutions,” Priest said.
Pierce County local governments, agencies and companies have received just more than $300 million from the stimulus, according to Gregoire’s office. For Thurston County the number was $484 million, but at least some of that reflects money routed through state government agencies and waiting to go out to other parts of the state.
Large shares include $1 billion for King County, $235 million for Spokane County, $214 million for Yakima County and $3.5 billion for Benton County – mostly for cleaning up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
The state has marked some progress on one high-profile area of stimulus spending: weatherization. The News Tribune reported in early December that because of a bureaucratic snag, the state was far behind in its plans to make energy-saving improvements to hundreds of homes statewide last year.
Now the Department of Commerce reports that the funding has made energy improvements in 43 Tacoma homes through Jan. 29 and 36 homes in the rest of Pierce County through the previous week.
Crews weatherized 1,176 homes statewide through Jan. 22. Another 1,631 were under way, of the roughly 7,000 planned for the use of stimulus money, said Steve Payne, managing director of housing improvements preservation.
“We’ve had some delays but we now are just about on track,” said Sherry Martin, Pierce County’s weatherization coordinator.
Jordan Schrader: 360-786-1826