It has been nearly two years since the President signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). As part of the law, states and other recipients of these federal funds were required to submit data to the federal government on funds received and expended under each program. For education programs, this included Title I and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act grants and the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, among other programs. Additionally, recipients had to report how many jobs had been saved or created by those expenditures in each fiscal quarter. This information is meant to estimate the degree to which spending from the ARRA has actually stimulated the economy and created jobs. Though recipient data is often flawed, it has become an important resource for tracking the progress of ARRA. Most recently, Recovery.gov released data on expenditures and jobs from the first quarter of fiscal year 2011 (October 1, 2010 through December 31, 2011).
According to these data, spending under ARRA-funded Department of Education programs saved or created 311,102 jobs during this time. This is a little more than half of the total jobs saved or created by ARRA – as reported by recipients – over the same time period – 585,654 jobs total. This is about 25,000 fewer jobs than were saved or created with ARRA spending in the previous fiscal quarter. This makes sense, however, because many of the education programs under the ARRA provided funding for fiscal years 2009 and 2010, but not 2011. As a result, we expect these numbers will continue to fall as fiscal year 2011 continues.
Unsurprisingly, State Fiscal Stabilization Funds (SFSF) under the Education Stabilization grants saved or created the most jobs of any program under the ARRA, education or otherwise – 184,876 jobs in the 1st fiscal quarter. The Education Stabilization grants provided $39.8 billion to states to fill gaps in K-12 and higher education funding, comprising one of the largest singe programs in the ARRA. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act grants (IDEA) saved the third most jobs out of any program at 49,899 in the 1st quarter. These funds can be used to support special education services for students including curricular materials and teacher salaries.
In the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2010, however, SFSF Government Services Grants saved more jobs than IDEA grants. This variation can be attributed to the school year calendar, which mostly falls during the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fiscal quarters, but not the 4th. Because Government Services grants go to other expenditures besides education, they are more likely to be used during the summer than IDEA grants, which are mostly used during the school year.
As one would expect, the most populated states saved or created the most jobs using ARRA education funds. Florida reported saving or creating the most jobs using education ARRA funds in the 1st quarter – 47,172 of the total 58,891 jobs saved or created in the state. Texas came in second with 39,591 jobs and New York in third with 19,476 jobs. This is far fewer jobs than New York saved with ARRA education funds in the 4th quarter of 2010 - 30,978 – likely because the state has begun to run out of these funds. Though one would expect California to have the highest job numbers because it is the largest state, California spent most of its ARRA education funds prior to the 4th fiscal quarter. As a result, it reports saving or creating 17,382 jobs.
In total, the Department of Education has paid out $70.5 billion of the nearly $100 billion available for education programs under the ARRA. According to recipient data, these funds saved or create between 300,000 and 400,000 jobs each fiscal quarter. Though these funds are beginning to run out, school districts will be able to rely on Education Jobs Funds to continue to save education jobs through the end of fiscal year 2012. Hopefully by then state and local revenues will have rebounded enough to fill the budget gaps currently plugged with federal funds.