Emergency Jobs Act of 1983:

Funds Spent Slowly, Few Jobs Created

HRD-87-1: Published: Dec 31, 1986. Publicly Released: Dec 31, 1986.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO provided information on federal agencies' and local governments' use of funds the Emergency Jobs Appropriations Act of 1983 provided, specifically: (1) when they spent the funds; (2) how many people they employed; (3) how many unemployed persons received jobs; (4) what efforts they made to provide employment to the unemployed; and (5) what benefits, other than employment, they provided.

GAO found that: (1) most programs and activities failed to spend their funds before June 1984, when economic recovery began; (2) public works programs spent their funds much more slowly than public service programs; (3) 34,000 people found jobs as a result of the act; (4) an estimated 131,000 people could have found jobs if agencies and local governments had spent all of the available funds during the first year; (5) only 35 percent of the unemployed found jobs as of September 1984; (6) in 7 of the 10 programs GAO surveyed, only 20 percent of the project officials made a moderate attempt to hire persons unemployed at least 15 of the 26 weeks before passage of the act, while only half made an attempt to provide employment to unemployed persons, regardless of how long they had been unemployed; (7) unemployed persons obtained a relatively small percentage of the created jobs; and (8) the funds also provided for the construction of public libraries and roads, humanitarian assistance, including food and health services for the indigent, and the rehabilitation of public buildings and facilities, such as schools and parks.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was intended for use by Congress in developing future job creation programs when needed in response to an economic recession. No such programs have been needed since the report was issued and it does not appear that any will be needed in the near future. Consequently, no specific congressional action is intended until the need for a job creation program arises.

    Matter: In considering any future job creation legislation in response to an economic recession, Congress should emphasize programs and activities that historically have been able to quickly spend funds or that have projects available for immediate implementation to provide jobs when the economy needs them the most, placing less emphasis on public works programs and activities that traditionally have spent funds slowly.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: This recommendation was intended for use by Congress in developing future job creation programs when needed in response to an economic recession. No such programs have been needed since the report was issued and it does not appear that any will be needed in the near future. Consequently, no specific congressional action is intended until the need for a job creation program arises.

    Matter: In considering any future job creation legislation in response to an economic recession, Congress should require that these programs and activities obligate and, to the extent practicable, spend funds within a specified time period following the end of the recession or after enactment of the legislation to ensure that jobs are created when most needed, allowing federal departments and agencies involved some discretion in granting exceptions where they are in the best interest of the government.

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: This matter for congressional consideration was intended for use in developing future job creation programs when needed in response to an economic recession. No such programs have been needed since the report was issued and it does not appear that any will be needed in the near future. Consequently, no specific congressional action is intended until the need for a job creation program arises.

    Matter: In deliberating any future job creation legislation, Congress may wish to consider requiring federal departments and agencies that receive funds to maintain specific expenditure, employment, and other information needed to evaluate the program and to improve congressional oversight.

 

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