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Workers spend stimulus cash on break

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Steve Chiotakis: On Thursday, the Council of Economic Advisors releases its estimates of how many jobs were created or saved by The Recovery Act, also known as the Stimulus Package. The first road project funded through the package is just almost complete. All summer, Tamara Keith’s been tracking the repaving of New Hampshire Avenue just outside of Washington, D.C., and she filed this update.

Tamara Keith: It’s 11 o’clock at night and Tim Radel is operating a skid loader. He scoops up piles of blacktop left behind by a big, yellow milling machine that’s grinding off several inches of cracked and potholed asphalt.

Tim Radel: We’re cleaning everything up, sweeping the road off clean, and then the paving crew is coming behind us and putting a skim coat on it.

It wasn’t long ago that Radel worried he would be out of work this summer. Instead he’s been busier than ever, logging lots of overtime on this and another stimulus project. He’s paid off all his bills and is just back from a week-long vacation. He took his two daughters to Ocean City, Md.

Radel: My grandparents live down there and luckily, you know, I’ve been working enough. I had some money so we could go out and do a lot of fun stuff down there.

They went to the beach, played miniature golf, and rode the rides at the Jolly Roger, an amusement park.

Radel: They had a blast.

Radel’s stimulus project pay check, provided Ocean City with a little economic stimulus of its own.

At the Jolly Roger, General Manager Steven Pastusak says business here has been slower than usual — but decent.

Steven Pastusak: Maybe they don’t do the water park every day. They do that one day, do the beach next day and then, say, do miniature golf. They spread it out a little bit more instead of spending a lot of money on things.

Ocean City’s mayor has been trying to entice vacationers like Tim Radel with radio ads like this one:

Radio Ad: Hi this is Rick Meehan, mayor of Ocean City, Md. A lot of people are tightening their belts this summer, but I’m here to say, there’s still time to book a great vacation without spending a lot.

Mayor Meehan says it looks like business in the tourist town is holding steady this year, despite the recession.

We’ve increased the number of day trippers, maybe just like the family you talked about. But while they’re here, they are going out and spending money. They are buying their french fries, they are buying their popcorn. And if everybody buys a little less but there’s a few more people buying, the numbers are about the same.

In this economy, not losing is the new winning.

In Ocean City, I’m Tamara Keith for Marketplace.

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