But the recovery has been slower than expected. And some worry about the possibility of another nosedive once the stimulus is spent.
Mr. Ozuna's company, which the FAA selected for its innovative methods in designing and installing airport lighting systems, offers a telling case in point. While the stimulus allowed him to save all 15 jobs, he didn't create any. Now, he's worried about his company's prospects once the stimulus work dries up this summer.
"We got hit with about a 30 percent decline in business right off the top (at the start of the recession), and it's almost continued to still be that way," he said.
One nagging problem about the current recovery is that it is relatively jobless. Employers, wary of another economic plunge, are trying to maximize the productivity of their surviving ranks.
A $15 billion jobs bill signed by President Obama in March attempts to address the matter, by offering tax incentives for companies to hire unemployed workers. But Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona) said he'd like to see the federal government tackle the problem more aggressively.
To date, he said, the stimulus package has made inroads on jobs in a manner that is largely passive.
"I think it's got to be more of an assertive role," Mr. Grijalva told Hispanic Business magazine.
He added, "If you're going to give incentives to businesses to expand, I think part of the incentive package needs to be additional incentives for hiring. That needs to be part of the equation, and hasn't been."
For Hispanic-owned businesses, the stimulus has been a "mixed bag," said Javier Palomarez, CEO and president of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Palomarez said while the bill has pumped a lot of money into infrastructure projects, not enough contracts are going to Hispanic-owned companies.
Hispanics own about 7 percent of all businesses in the United States, but Hispanic-owned businesses have received less than 2 percent of the $46 billion spent on federal contracts to date, he said.
"It's not really the fault of the federal government, as the federal government has put the plan in place," he told Hispanic Business magazine. "It really comes down to the local governments."
Less than half of the states, he said, have a disadvantaged business enterprise program in place. These programs ensure that small and minority-owned businesses get a fair share of contracts.
Nationwide, the true depth of the crisis is difficult to convey. In a nutshell, the 162,000 jobs gained in March represents just a sliver of the 8 million jobs lost. The best years of job creation in U.S. history came in the 1990s, when an average 242,000 new jobs were added every month.
Even if the economy resumed this level of job creation, it would take five years to knock the unemployment rate down to 5 percent, according to Jay Hancock, a financial columnist for the Baltimore Sun.
Still, the benefits of the stimulus package are palpable in places like Orange County, California, according to Congresswoman Sanchez.
In her district, it has meant that schools slated for closure have stayed open, police departments facing force reductions have kept cops on the street, creeks prone to flooding have found funding for restoration and clogged freeways have been widened.
Keeping the schools open, she said, has arguably been the most noteworthy benefit.
"That's a big deal, especially for Hispanics, since we send our kids to public schools," Ms. Sanchez said. "Can you imagine coming to school in the morning and seeing a chain-link fence and a lock? That's what we were facing a year ago."
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