The Wall Street Journal posted a handy summary of the 1,073-page stimulus bill signed
by President Obama on Monday. It’s possible that the bill contains provisions not in the
Journal’s table, but judging by the summary, Washington is hoping that consumer
demand will perk up the manufacturing sector because there’s not much of obvious direct
benefit to the sector.

The only specific PLM-related items are funding for NIST, NASA and energy projects.
According to the Journal’s breakdown, NIST gets $220 million to conduct "research into
technology with high-growth potential and technology grants to small and mid-sized
manufacturers." Whether that funding is for design technology or advanced manufacturing
(such as robotics assembly lines) is unclear. NASA is slated to receive $400 million for
shuttle construction and additional funding for climate and aeronautics research. The bill
also includes quite a few energy-related projects such as $2 billion for "advanced
batteries manufacturing grants." Again, whether this would lead to PLM purchases is
unclear.

Infrastructure projects lead the list of dollar expenditures, which should increase demand
for products heavy construction equipment and project management software. It’s also
likely that demand for design software will increase slightly since most of the
engineering/procurement/construction firms lease software as needed, and staff up and
down on a project basis.

Other news items about the stimulus bill indicate that the average worker will see $8 per
week more in their paycheck once the income tax cuts kick in over the next few weeks —
but most economists believe consumers will use this to pay down household debt, a
natural reaction to economic uncertainty but not helpful for the manufacturing sector,
which wants consumers out there buying cars, TVs and riding lawn mowers. We’re basing
a lot of hope on the buying habits of those about to be employed by stimulus-related
projects.