“Transportation projects — especially highway projects — have been one of the great success stories of the Recovery Act. The Federal Highway Administration has approved 7,965 projects worth just more than $19.2 billion — 72% of all available highway recovery funds — in the seven months since President Obama signed the act into law.”
– Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, 9/30/09
Today's report on unemployment from the Department of Labor is disappointing and while the numbers are better than they were a year ago, they are still far too high. So, Congress will continue working to spur economic growth and get Americans back to work. Despite today's news, there are glimmers of hope across the economy. Read on for some of the positive indications that our economy is starting to recover.
• This week, the Commerce Department reported that the gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by an annual rate of 0.7% from April through June, a revision from earlier estimates of a 1% contraction and “a sizable improvement from the pace of decline in the first quarter of the year. The numbers for the second quarter appeared to get a lift from the government’s $787 billion stimulus package.” [New York Times, 9/30/09
• A Department of Commerce report shows that Consumer spending surged in August compared with July, with spending increasing by 1.3%. About a third of the spending increase was from auto sales. [Wall Street Journal, 10/2/09
• According to The National Association of Realtors, pending home sales rose 6.4 percent from July to 103.8 in August, the highest since March 2007 and 12% above a year ago. Another sign the real estate market is recovering from its four-year slump, “Construction spending also rose unexpectedly in August on the biggest jump in housing activity in nearly 16 years.” [Associated Press, 10/1/09
• Vice President Biden announced nine new targets for Recovery Act progress through the end of 2009. The nine spotlighted targets include investments in electric vehicles, military hospitals, national parks, small business assistance, housing loans and rehabilitation, renewable energy, and road projects. In addition, the announcement included a new Administration-wide goal of obligating 60 percent of the CBO estimated $499 billion in spending under the Recovery Act by December 31, 2009. Click here for more information from the Office of the Vice President.
• This week, President Obama announced that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was awarded $5 billion in grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support research into cures for cancer and other diseases, and to create jobs. [Associated Press, 9/30/09