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Stimulus money adds 1,635 jobs in Florida so far, government says

The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute is testing a drug to complement a vaccine against cancer.

Tampa Ship LLC is replacing machines that make steel panels for ships.

Both are getting federal stimulus money, and both hope to hire more workers as a result.

But is it enough to pull Florida out of a lingering recession?

The numbers issued Thursday by the government: 30,000 jobs created or saved nationwide, including 1,635 in Florida. So far, $47.9 million has flowed into Florida.

Still, that tells just part of the story.

The job numbers are a small fraction of the 3.5 million that President Barack Obama is seeking to create or save. Likewise, the money — $16 billion in contracts — is a tiny sliver of $787 billion that the administration has committed through tax breaks, state funding and other forms of relief.

Broader numbers, reflecting everything from repairs to public housing and school construction to repaving highways and saving teachers' jobs, are due later this month.

Thursday's report was further compromised because the reporting process was so new and some recipients were late to supply the data, said Cheryl Arvidson, a spokeswoman for the Recovery Accountability Board. She expects the job numbers to grow as revisions come in.

Locally, the money — and the promise of jobs — were concentrated largely in Hillsborough County.

About a half-dozen contracts went to MacDill Air Force Base, where the government is hiring dozens of workers to repair roads, airfield aprons and a drainage system.

At Moffitt, researchers are spending $1.2 million to advance their work with a drug that can boost the immune system, and increase the effectiveness of an anti-cancer vaccine.

That contract is just part of $19 million in stimulus funds that the center has received, largely through the National Institutes of Health, in the form of grants.

"This is $19 million that we didn't have a year ago," said Dr. Bill Dalton, the hospital's chief executive officer. "This is exciting."

While it's too early to see a difference in employment, he said, the hospital could hire 50 or 60 people as a result.

Similarly, Tampa Ship is looking to the future.

Its $2.27 million will pay for a panel line system to replace one that is several decades old, said Lonnie Thibodeaux, spokesman for Edison Chouest Offshore, the Louisiana company that purchased Tampa Ship about a year ago.

The upgrade is part of an ongoing modernization that could result in 300 new jobs.

"That panel line is critical," he said. "In that type of industry, you've got to have the latest and the greatest."

White House officials acknowledged that Thursday's report was far from complete.

But "all signs — from private estimates to this fragmentary data — point to the conclusion that the Recovery Act did indeed create or save about 1 million jobs in its first seven months, a much needed lift in a very difficult period for our economy," said Jared Bernstein, chief economist for Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

With unemployment at 9.8 percent nationally and 10.7 percent in Florida, opponents were quick to disagree.

"The administration's continuing assertion that the stimulus is working flies in the face of the harsh reality being faced by Americans outside the Beltway every day," said House Minority Leader John Boehner.

"While the administration spins its illusion, Americans are asking, "Where are the jobs?"

Information from the New York Times and the Associated Press was used in this report.

To see a detailed breakdown of the spending related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, including a feature that allows users to track stimulus money by ZIP code, go to www.recovery.gov.

facts

Tracking spending

To see a detailed breakdown of the spending related to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, including a feature that allows users to track stimulus money by ZIP code, go to recovery.gov.

Stimulus money adds 1,635 jobs in Florida so far, government says 10/16/09 [Last modified: Friday, October 16, 2009 10:16am]
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