During his speech at V&M Star in Youngstown today, President Barack Obama will discuss “how efforts to rescue the economy are working, creating jobs, growing small business and keeping communities like Youngstown going,” according to a White House statement.
That’s from the Youngstown Vindicator.
And considering the realities of the situation, it’s absolutely amazing to me that President Obama believes the Youngstown area is a symbol of all that is right with the federal stimulus.
- Since the stimulus was enacted, the Youngstown area has 7,800 fewer people employed and the unemployment rate has increased from 12.4% to 14.0%.
- During the first five months of the stimulus, employment in Youngstown actually improved. But since then it has drastically shrunk. This implies that the stimulus has very clearly not helped.
- Right now there are 235,000 people employed in the Youngstown area. That’s the lowest number available on the Bureau of Labor Statistics database that goes back 20 years.
What’s even more amazing is that the parent company of the business Obama is visiting today doesn’t even claim the stimulus as a primary reason for their expansion.
However, when Vallourec, V&M’s French-based parent company, announced the expansion Feb. 15, little was said about the stimulus package money.
Oliver Mallet, Vallourec’s chief financial officer, said the project was helped by “very strong local business partnerships with the support of federal, state and municipal governments.”
He said the main reasons to expand in Youngstown were the success of the current facility, the local work force, and its proximity to the Marcellus Shale, a large natural-gas field under eastern Ohio and most of Pennsylvania.
During that same announcement, Didier Hornet, Vallourec’s chief operating officer of its oil and gas division, said the company was “benefiting from some stimulus package. Nonetheless, none of these incentives are specific to us. They are applicable to the industry in the region.”
In other words, “thanks for the coupon, but we were buying the product anyway.”
But what about Ohio as a whole? Is Ohio really the best place to highlight successes of the stimulus? Take a look at the table below. It highlights the unemployment rates when the stimulus was enacted to the most recent data available in each Midwestern state.
And yet you say the stimulus is working. Does this count as “rescuing the economy”?
The federal stimulus package provided $4.37 million for excavating, grading and drainage improvement to the site. That work, which created 35 construction jobs, is nearly done.
That’s $125,000 per job. And on top of it, once the job is done, so go the jobs.
This is President Obama’s stimulus.
Maybe he should have sat down with Ohio congressional candidate Bill Johnson to figure out some real solutions.