Rebuilding American Infrastructure Is a Path to Jobs

Declining infrastructure is the right investment for today.

Posted Apr 30, 2019

Public infrastructure touches every single American. Whether you travel by plane or take a train, bus line, or highway to get to school or work, you utilize some level of infrastructure. Today, America’s infrastructure is rapidly declining and failing. 

The next wave of job creation can and should be supported by the government. The path to increasing the workforce can be forged by placing more Americans into jobs that rebuild our infrastructure. During the 20th century, the government played a vital role in moving the country from predominantly farming to factories. Since the early 1980s, the country has shed over 5 million manufacturing jobs, shrinking from over 25 percent at its peak in 1920 to less than 9 percent today. The federal government has not invested in large-scale job creation since the 20th century. Past large-scale government job creation included the military structures to fight Germany and Japan.

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Railroad
Source: Ronaldo de Oliveira/Unsplash

Infrastructure was once considered a priority in American public policy. Significant investment projects included the Washington Metro, Hoover Dam, Interstate Highway systems, major bridges, and the Los Angeles Aqueduct. These projects helped to transform the economy and provide a level of financial stability. If we are looking for a proven track record on putting Americans back to work, infrastructure is the key. From the disintegrating bridges of California to the spilling over sewage drains of Houston and the rusting railroad tracks in the Northeast, decomposing infrastructure is affecting everyone. All over the United States, the nation’s infrastructure is deteriorating or nearing the end of its lifespan.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) estimates there is a “$86 billion backlog in deferred maintenance on the nation’s rail and bus lines.” The National League of Cities is calling on Congress to take action to rebuild American infrastructure. The National League of Cities asserts, “In many places, our nation’s infrastructure is structurally deficient, and state and local governments cannot address the challenge alone; they must and need to work with Congress to address this crisis.” According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the United States needs to spend “$3.6 trillion by 2020 to bring the rail and bus lines up to code” (Brubeck, 2018).

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Subway
Source: Brandon Mowinkel/Unsplash

The federal government must play a vital role in creating jobs. One way to accomplish this is to invest in rebuilding our infrastructure. Government programs that expand the workforce are critical to stabilizing the country’s infrastructure. Expanding U.S. Department of Labor and registered and industry recognized apprenticeship programs (as well as other “earn while you learn” craft skills programs) will provide hard-working Americans with opportunities to pursue well-paying careers in the industry that builds our airports, bridges, and highways.

The path to stabilized infrastructure and job growth is a marathon and not a race. It will take congressional leadership working in partnership with cities and county governments to create and sustain programs designed to put policies and programs in place and collaborate on meeting the demands for the workforce.

The United States needs to approach infrastructure with a long-term plan. This will provide employment opportunities, strengthen the workforce, improve our economy, and help hold the government accountable for making infrastructure reliable for everyone.

References

Brubeck, Ben.  How we Should Prepare to Rebuild America's Infrastructure, December 12, 2018.  Fox Business

Stodola, Mark.  How to Rebuild America's Infrastructure, March 13, 2018. National League of Cities

Surowiecki, James.  Inside America's Infrastructure Problem, April 11, 2016.  The New Yorker