An investigation by the Labor Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) has confirmed that more than seven million dollars in federal stimulus money went to an Oregon forestry project that generated not a single U.S. job. Instead, precisely $7,140,782 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), President Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus plan, was siphoned off to four Oregon forestry services to pay wages for 254 foreign workers.
In 2009, when the program’s contracts were approved, Oregon was home to the nation’s third-highest unemployment rate (11.1 percent), with joblessness in many rural areas surpassing 15 percent. In addressing the state’s economic woes, the Obama administration said that the funds were aimed to produce hundreds of forest clean-up jobs in central Oregon. But despite severe job shortages, contractors professed that they wrestled to attract local workers in the area, and did so "unsuccessfully." However, the OIG reported:
Only two Oregonians were listed on the employer recruitment reports, indicating that workers in Oregon were likely unaware these job opportunities were available. In fact, although 146 U.S. workers were contacted by the three employers regarding possible employment, none were [sic] hired. Instead, 254 foreign workers were brought into the country for these jobs.
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Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore., pictured)