Government spending: where Metro’s dollars go

As many of you know, the great ongoing debate in Washington and many state capitals across the nation revolves around this question: what’s the best way to create jobs and spur the economy? Is it to downsize government, allowing for lower taxes and more money in individuals’ pockets? Or is it trying to manage debt and also allow for government spending?

Obviously the above is a very simple black-and-white take on that question, which I’m not crazy about. But it’s hard to discount the very real fact that government spending is significant and has a real economic impact. That’s essentially the argument that Metro is making in favor of its America Fast Forward plan to change federal law to allow the agency to use federal financing to speed up the construction of Measure R-funded projects. In short, spending = needed infrastructure = jobs.

In that spirit, here’s an interesting study Metro commissioned from the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) that evaluates the economic impact Metro had in the 2010 fiscal year (which ended June 30, 2010). The gist of it: The study found that Metro’s $2.6 billion in expenditures in Southern California resulted in preserving or creating over 51,500 jobs (direct and indirect) and $8.1 billion in economic output.

In addition, the study also found that Metro spent more than $1.2 billion on wages and benefits of agency employees, as well as the workers of subsidized operations. Metro also made payments to 2,400-plus vendors in the United States and Canada in FY 2010 — more than 1,400 of those were located in California. Metro spending also resulted in nearly 4,000 construction jobs.

Here are three charts from the report that I thought were interesting:

This map shows where Metro employees live in Southern California. Not surprisingly, the bulk live in and around the city of L.A. Click for a larger image.

The majority of vendors that Metro contracts with are in California. But Metro is also doing business with private firms across the country — thereby helping them retain or create jobs. Click for a larger image.

On the above point, this chart shows the states where Metro spending has the largest impact. Click above to see a larger image.

3 replies

  1. Metro can do a world of good by investing in better customer service. Wait times to talk to representatives and no resolution to issues for 7 days is no way to say Metro cares about it’s customers. One data point in many but you guys need to step it up.

  2. Im also curious as to why there are no onsite senior TAP card distributors. One of my parents has been patiently waiting for it to come in the mail and its been almost a month since I helped her apply for it. It would be nice if one could go to Union Station and pick it up same day without the wait.