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Top Jobs Created from the Stimulus Plan

Trickle-Down Jobs from the Stimulus Plan

Claudine Benmar

Follow the Obama dollars.

That's the advice career expert Stephen Viscusi has for millions of unemployed workers who hope the federal stimulus plan will stimulate their job search.

What Jobs Will Be Created from the Stimulus Plan?

The industries most likely to benefit from the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act include medical, environmental, finance, teaching, and even automotive, says Viscusi, a New York City-based headhunter and author of the book "Bulletproof Your Job."

"The massive federal dollars trickling down to Joe Smith won't happen until the third quarter of 2010 and may affect Joe Smith in many different ways," Viscusi says. "Joe or Janet Smith may be a major contractor on a construction project, or Joe and Janet Smith can be the ones that work for the construction project. Or they can be one of the vendors that sell [supplies] for the construction project."

The ripple effect of the stimulus plan on the creation of jobs goes even farther than that, he says. "It trickles down as far as Joe or Janet Smith being the food vendors in the food truck that feeds people on the construction project. None of this pyramid would be available without the stimulus package."

The experts interviewed for this article by PayScale.com identified several types of jobs that will be in higher demand as the ripple effect of the stimulus plan hits local communities. Example job positions and their median annual salaries are included below, as well.

1. Infrastructure: Engineers, construction workers, project managers.
    Mechanical engineer - $71,490 
    Mechanical drafter - $39,206
    Construction manager - $66,480

2. Medical: Doctors, nurses, and medical assistants, as well as information technology specialists to speed the implementation of electronic health records. 
    Radiology x-ray technician - $42,749
    Physician assistant - $88,575
    Public health nurse - $57,322

3. Finance: Accountants, auditors, and regulators to oversee spending of the stimulus money.
    Accountant - $50,144
    Auditor - $64,914
    Financial analyst - $59,700

4. Education: Teachers, child care workers, school administrators, support staff.
    Teacher, elementary school - $43,182
    Social worker - $46,641
    Education administrator, elementary school - $40,530

5. Environmental protection: Environmental scientists, green construction experts, energy efficiency experts.
    Environmental scientist - $55,509
    Environmental engineer - $67,805
    Environmental health and safety technician - $50,589

The White House estimates that the stimulus plan will create three million new jobs over the next two years, but experts caution that the bulk of those stimulus plan jobs won't happen until next year. "About six percent of the stimulus money has been spent so far, and only 20 percent of it will be spent by the end of this calendar year," said Eric Dickerson, a partner with the executive recruitment firm Kaye/Bassman in Plano, Texas. "What we're seeing right now is the building of the governmental infrastructure that will oversee those programs."

Even that six percent of the stimulus plan money is already making a difference in some communities. Manet Community Health Center in the suburbs of Boston was able to hire four new bilingual doctors with stimulus money. AmeriCorps is gearing up to fill 10,000 new yearlong community service positions funded by the stimulus plan. And Don Laskey, president of a construction firm in Coos Bay, Ore., says he's been able to bring back 15 laid-off workers as a result of new federally funded road paving projects.

Laskey says the stimulus plan will eventually have an even greater impact on the construction industry -- especially environmentally friendly construction -- but it won't be for many months or even years because it takes that long to get construction permits for more complicated projects.

Deniece Peterson, principal analyst at the Virginia-based market research firm INPUT, says it's difficult to really track jobs created by the stimulus plan. "Accurate reporting of job creation is a pipe dream," her agency wrote in a recent "report card" on the stimulus plan. "U.S. citizens will never really know the impact of the [plan] on the economy."

Viscusi agrees. "It's important to understand that we've experienced a recession that destroys jobs. This stimulus package is a new experiment -- the goal of it is to expedite the [end of] the recession," he says. "When any recession ends, new jobs are always created. Again, this stimulus package is still an experiment and it remains to be seen if it will expedite the creation of jobs. Even if it doesn't, the most we can hope for is new jobs in 2010, so it's almost a wash."

Some aspects of the federal stimulus plan pump money into areas that are already on the upswing -- health care, for example. Even without the stimulus plan, Dickerson says, health care jobs will be more plentiful in the years to come.

Should new college graduates or laid-off workers make any major changes in strategy to grab stimulus plan jobs? Viscusi says no -- not yet. "Stick on your career course and stay focused. The stimulus plan is more psychological hype until the middle of next year."

Source: All salary data is from PayScale.com. The salaries listed are median, annual salaries for full-time workers with 5-8 years of experience and include any bonuses, commissions or profit sharing.

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