This past summer, I covered a strange new metric popping up in job reports being provided by the Department of Energy; not jobs created or jobs saved, but rather - lives touched.
...(a) GAO report shows that the phrase ‘jobs created’ or ‘jobs saved’ is no longer the term of choice. They have decided to go with – wait for it – ‘lives touched’.
So what exactly defines a touched life?
A spokesperson from the CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company explains:
“Lives Touched” is a figure that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) uses to track the amount of people who have been positively affected by the Recovery Act funds. This total would include people who have been provided full time employment (i.e. saved and created jobs) through the Recovery Act and people who at some point have supported a project funded by the Recovery Act.
CH2M was prominently posting the number of lives touched by the stimulus on their website, but transitioned away from that shortly after a report in the Daily Caller.
The positive and negative effect of this company on stimulus results is significant. The CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company was listed as having been awarded four of the top ten contracts from stimulus funds; contracts worth over $1.2 billion as of July 30th.
The question is, what will they be bragging about now?
According to a report from KEPR, layoffs are on the way due to the end of stimulus funding.
Action News spoke with CH2M Hill and the company is planning to make 1,350 layoffs by next September.
Contractors like CH2M Hill were hoping to avoid the drastic cuts that would come from losing close $2 billion in federal money.
To be fair, using the 'lives touched' metric does indeed work in reverse according to this report. The pain of the layoffs will be felt throughout the community.
Besides losing jobs, the layoffs could have a bigger effect on the entire Tri-Cities. “There will be an impact unfortunately on the community as far as hospitality and service industry,” said (Kayla) Pratt, “but the sky isn't falling."
Oddly enough, despite the layoffs being announced on the 20th, a newsletter produced by the company on the 21st doesn't mention the word job.
It would seem that CH2M has gone from proudly proclaiming the incalculable number of 'lives touched', to trying to sweep this loss of jobs under the rug.
All is not gloomy for CH2M however. They've been assigned to cleanup duty at the Knoll's Atomic Power Labin upstate New York. Ironically, this new project may have never come about without help from - you guessed it-the stimulus.
In September, the Knolls site saw what the EPA called 'an uncontrolled spread of radioactive material’, and a DOE report revealed that:
"The company was pushing to finish work three months earlier than first planned — by September 2011 rather than December 2011 — in order to receive an extra $32 million in federal stimulus funding awarded for the cleanup in April 2009."
The stimulus truly is touching lives.