Rob Horowitz: One More Reason to Invest in Infrastructure
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
The Report’s authors, Joseph Kane and Robert Puentes, argue that in thinking about the impact of infrastructure on job-creation, the big picture is being overlooked due to an overemphasis on ‘short-term and temporary” shovel-ready projects. According to their research, 14.2 million workers—about one-in-ten nationally—are employed in infrastructure jobs. These include civil engineers, electricians and truck drivers, among others.
Contrary to perception, there jobs are mainly long-term, with more than 3-in-4 on the continuing operations side, while less than 1-in-4 are in the more temporary construction and design areas. To work properly, transportation, energy and water systems require ongoing operation and constant maintenance.
Most of these jobs are good-paying and do not require college degrees. Training is by and large conducted and available on the job. Even without the significant new investments needed, there will be about 3 million job openings in the infrastructure area mainly due to anticipated retirements.
And make no mistake, dramatically stepped-up investments in infrastructure are needed in order for the United States to maintain its economic competitiveness. The nation’s infrastructure has dropped from 1st to 15th in economic competitiveness, according to the World Economic Forum. The United States has the world’s worst air traffic congestion and little or no high speed rail. No longer are any of the top ten ports in the world located here, while six of them are now located in China.
The 2013 American Society of Civil Engineer’s Infrastructure Report Card gives the United States a D+ for the current state of its infrastructure, estimating that it would take $3.6 trillion between now and 2020 to do all the needed upgrades.
In a tough competitive global economy, the ability to rapidly move goods, services and people is an essential component of competitiveness. It is only common sense to invest now as the longer we wait the more costly fixing existing infrastructure and embarking on needed new projects will be.
Unfortunately, common sense legislative initiatives that combine public funding with innovative ways to attract private capital are stalled in Congress. These kind of investments used to attract broad bi-partisan support, but more recently have been opposed by hard line conservatives and Tea Party supporters as just “more unnecessary government spending.”
It is time for the rest of us to redouble our efforts and push forward desperately needed new investments in infrastructure—critically important investments in our economic future with the added benefit of generating good new jobs. It is hard to argue against that one-two punch.
Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.
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