No Such Thing as Shovel Ready

The Supply Side of the Recovery Act

How did the $787 billion American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) affect the U.S. economy?

Since 2008, support for effective fiscal stimulus has been premised on the belief in the existence of hundreds of billions of dollars worth of what became popularly known as "shovel-ready projects." These infrastructure construction and improvement projects would simultaneously lower unemployment, provide value to taxpayers, stimulate private sector growth, and begin in 90 days of less. The U.S. media picked up on this expression with over 4,000 news stories on "shovel-ready projects" appearing between November 2008 and March 2009.

Under the commission of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, we conducted a first-of-its-kind study, sending interview teams across the country to ask businesses, nonprofits, and local governments just what the stimulus program accomplished.