Broadband Stimulus: Jobs Now, Jobs Later

President Obama announced 66 new stimulus projects this morning devoted to expanding broaband networks, particularly in rural America. This announcement came as the decidedly mixed June jobs report showed how far we have yet to go before we're on solid economic ground. Said Obama, in the announcement:

Broadband can remove geographic barriers between patients and their doctors. It can connect our kids to the digital skills and 21st century education required for the jobs of the future. And it can prepare America to run on clean energy by helping us upgrade to a smarter, stronger, more secure electrical grid.

The projects draw from funding contained in the Recovery Act passed last year, and the $795 million will be handed out by the Commerce Department and the Department of Agriculture. Altogether, the projects are expected to create 5,000 constructions and installation jobs in the coming months.

That's a low number, but it doesn't account for the long-term benefits that come from broadband.  As Obama said, "All told, these investments will benefit tens of millions of Americans. More than 685,000 businesses, 900 health care facilities and 2,500 schools will see positive gains from them." Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack emphasized the benefits that farmers could reap from broadband access, but talked also about the benefits to education, healthcare, and economic development that rural areas would gain from broadband.