Stimulus dollars boost Hanford employment
Federal stimulus dollars are pouring into the Hanford clean-up, creating about 2,500 jobs for the Tri-Cities.
Sen. Patty Murray recently visited the Volpentest HAMMER Center at Hanford to see how some $1.96 billion in stimulus funds is being spent. District 751 Members who work at Hanford train there.
The stimulus allocation has roughly doubled the $2 billion annual budget for cleaning up Hanford, which still contains great amounts of nuclear waste from the Cold War, when it was one of the nation’s prime suppliers of atomic material for nuclear warheads. So far, about $224 million of the stimulus dollars have been spent. It’s intended to last for about two years, and estimates are that the stimulus will create 4,500 full-time jobs before the money runs out.
Among those who’ve added jobs is contractor CH2M Hill, which has doubled the size of its Hanford workforce and continues to hire.
“We have created jobs,” John Lehew, the president in charge of the Company’s Hanford operations told the Tri-City Herald. “We’re reducing life cycle costs and we’re reducing the overall cleanup footprint of the Hanford site.”
In some respects, the Tri-Cities were lucky compared to most of the nation, when it comes to receiving stimulus dollars, MSNBC.com reports. With the Obama administration putting its emphasis on “shovel-ready” projects, the ongoing Hanford clean-up was a natural for receiving stimulus money — in most cases, the government merely extended already-existing contracts.
The hiring at Hanford has spilled over into the rest of the community, creating demand for retail goods and leading to a tight market for rental housing. The result? Benton and Franklin counties had some of the state’s lowest unemployment rates in October, at 5.7 and 6.3 percent, respectively. The statewide average was 9.3 percent last month, and nationwide, joblessness was at 10.2 percent.
Hanford employment is expected to peak in 2010.