Three years into President Obama's nearly one trillion dollar stimulus plan, some people are asking: Was it was money well-spent?
Although stimulus money has led to road and bridge repairs and technology upgrades for schools, locally, federal government figures show it has not created a large number of jobs.
When President Obama visited Allentown in December 2009, he brought high hopes for an $840 billion recovery package designed to get Americans back to work.
"I know that we can come together to forge a brighter future, so that places like Allentown and Bethlehem and the Lehigh Valley don't just survive, but they thrive," Obama said at the time.
In many ways, the plan was a success. Since 2009, our region has received $350 million -- money that has gone to classrooms, transportation projects, and housing initiatives.
"To keep this Commonwealth, to keep this country, from falling into some sort of economic abyss, I think was worth the money," said Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski.
But how many jobs is the Recovery Act actually creating?
In Allentown, stimulus money created 238 jobs in the last three months of 2011, according to the federal government's Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board.
The money created 92 jobs in Reading, 53 in Bethlehem, and 27 in Easton. The agency points out though, that many of those jobs were temporary.
Some economists say there's more to the story than just the numbers, though.
"Many people think that … the more people we hire, the better the economy is doing," said Moravian College economist Jim West. "The real job of the economy is to create productive goods and services."
And that, said West, has a multiplier effect as construction companies and others buy supplies.
Pawlowski also pointed out, the money helped make city buildings more energy efficient.
"That's saving us real money," said Pawlowski, a Democrat. "That's going to keep saving us real money for many, many years to come."
The Obama administration believes the money prevented many jobs from being eliminated, although the government says it's difficult to quantify how many jobs we're talking about.
"We don't know what things would be like now if they had not done the stimulus," said Bethlehem Twp. resident Alex Brands. "Maybe they'd be better, maybe they'd be worse."
See where the money went where you live by clicking here.