In a recently released report, University of Massachusetts Boston offered a first-ever look at the demographic breakdown of Recovery Act jobs in 2010.
Chief among the findings was that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in Massachusetts created or retained jobs generally in proportion to the state population. However, blacks and Hispanics comprised a slightly larger proportion of ARRA jobholders than their representation in the statewide labor force.
Sponsored by UMass’ Collins Center for Public Management and the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, the new report analyzed Recovery Act job creation by race, ethnicity, and gender in the first two fiscal quarters of last year.
Blacks constituted 7.2 and 6.1 percent of ARRA jobholders in the first and second quarters, though they are only 4.7 percent of the Commonwealth’s labor force. Similarly, Hispanics earned 6.7 and 6.4 percent of ARRA jobs, while only comprising 5.5 percent of state labor.
Of these Recovery Act jobholders, blacks held nearly 20 percent of housing positions in the first quarter and 14.1 percent in the second. This category includes construction and administrative positions related to public housing, weatherization and homelessness prevention. In contrast, whites held more than 90 percent of funded jobs in education, clean energy and environment and transportation, while Asians held nearly a third of technology and research positions.
Overall, people of color comprised more than 10 percent of the ARRA jobholders in Massachusetts throughout 2010.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, more commonly known as the stimulus package, was passed by Congress in 2009 and allocated $787 billion to kick-start the flagging economy. To date, Massachusetts has more than $7 billion of these funds. Nationally, ARRA funds have saved or created up to 3.3 million, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and state data suggest that stimulus funds account for 79,000 more jobs in the second quarter of 2010.
Federal guidelines dictate a state reporting policy to follow-up on the effectiveness of the funds, but the UMass Boston report goes beyond these obligations.
“This report reflects our commitment to going above and beyond federal requirements in reporting Recovery Act jobs,” Director of the Massachusetts Recovery and Reinvestment Office Jeffrey Simon said. “Collecting this data provides another way for the public to first understand the impact of government policies, and second, to hold government accountable for results.”
In addition to racial data, the report also offers information about the gender breakdown of Recovery Act jobs.
Women benefited considerably from ARRA positions in the first quarter of 2010, comprising 55.3 percent of the workforce. However, by the second quarter, this figure dipped dramatically to 44.7 percent. Across the state, men and women are represented approximately equally in the labor force.
UMass Boston also provided a geographic analysis of Recovery Act job creation in its report. Suffolk County had a smaller proportion of ARRA-funded jobholders than is represented in the statewide labor force — the county represents 13.4 percent of the state’s employees, but only 9 percent of Recovery Act jobs. But Boston’s more racially diverse neighborhoods fared well compared to others. In the first quarter, 13.2 percent of the city’s Recovery Act jobholders lived in Roxbury, 27.1 percent in Dorchester and 15.7 percent in Jamaica Plain.
Carol Hardy Fanta, director of the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at UMass Boston and one of the coauthors of the study, hopes her research will inspire other reports like it. “In our review of reporting on ARRA spending around the country, this report is the first of its kind,” she said. “It should provide guidance on a number of fronts not only on the Massachusetts R[ecovery and] R[einvestment] O[ffice], but their counterparts across the country.”
Coming on the heels of this research, state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz has filed a new bill, “An Act to Create Equitable Job Access,” which would require similar tracking and reporting measures for all publicly funded jobs and contracts. According to the senator, this legislation would ensure greater transparency in the Commonwealth, and would also encourage the hiring of minority and women workers.
The bill has been ranked one of the top priorities of the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus this session.
“It’s great that UMass stepped up to the plate to do this report,” Sen. Chang-Diaz said in a public statement. “But, ultimately, what we want is for community members, advocates, and news outlets to be able to look up the numbers themselves, without having to jump through several hoops to get them and then get them digested by someone else.
“That’s why I filed legislation last month to require fully public reporting — online, quarterly, in user-friendly format — of jobs numbers on all state-funded projects,” she continued. “The idea here is to find out whether contractors are living up to their promises to hire within our communities before a project is over, while we can still do something about it.”