Now, even as we worked to address the crises in our banking sector, in our housing market, and in our auto industry, we also began attacking our economic crisis on a broader front. Less than one month after taking office we enacted the most sweeping economic recovery package in history: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Recovery Act was divided into three parts. One-third went for tax relief for small businesses and 95 percent of working families.
Another third was for emergency relief to help folks who’ve borne the brunt of this recession. We extended or increased unemployment benefits for more than 17 million Americans; made health insurance 65 percent cheaper for families relying on COBRA; and for state and local governments facing historic budget shortfalls as demand for services went up and tax revenues went down, we provided assistance that has saved the jobs of hundreds of thousands of teachers and public school workers, firefighters and police officers.
The last third is for investments to put Americans to work doing the work America needs done: doubling our capacity in renewable energy like wind and solar; computerizing medical records to save money and lives; providing the largest boost to medical research in history; renovating classrooms and school laboratories; and upgrading roads and railways as part of the largest investment in infrastructure since the creation of the Interstate Highway System half a century ago.
And even as the Recovery Act has created jobs and spurred growth, we have not let up in our efforts to take every responsible action to get the economy growing and America working. This fall, I signed into law more than $30 billion in tax cuts for struggling businesses, extended an effective tax credit for homebuyers, and provided additional unemployment insurance for one million Americans. And the Treasury is continuing to adapt our financial stability plan, helping to facilitate the flow of credit to small businesses and families. In addition, we are working to break down barriers and open overseas markets so our companies can better compete globally, creating jobs in America by exporting our products around the world.
Partly as a result of these and other steps, we’re in a very different place today than we were a year ago. We can safely say that we are no longer facing the potential collapse of our financial system and we’ve avoided the depression many feared. Our economy is growing for the first time in a year – and the swing from contraction to expansion since the beginning of the year is the largest in nearly three decades. Finally, we are no longer seeing the severe deterioration in the job market we once were; in fact we learned on Friday that the unemployment rate fell slightly last month. This is welcome news, and news made possible in part by the up to 1.6 million jobs that the Recovery Act has already created and saved according to the Congressional Budget Office.