Infrastructure woes could cost 3.5 million jobs by 2020: report

WASHINGTON Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:10am EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Imagine a future of broken bridges, roads, sewer systems, power grids, airports and not enough money to fix them or to build new ones to serve an expanding population. What would that cost the United States in terms of lost jobs?

A study released on Tuesday by the American Society of Civil Engineers says the cost in terms of lost jobs would be 3.5 million by 2020. It also projected a cumulative loss of $3.1 trillion in economic output over the same period without $1.1 trillion in additional funding for infrastructure projects.

"The results show that deteriorating infrastructure, long known to be a public safety issue, has a cascading impact on the nation's economy, negatively affecting business productivity, gross domestic product, employment, personal income and international competitiveness," the report entitled, "Failure to Act," said.

The study prepared by the Economic Development Research Group, a private consulting and analytic firm, estimated the United States needs to spend $2.75 trillion to maintain and improve its infrastructure by 2020, or roughly 66 percent more than the $1.66 trillion in currently expected funding over that period.

"Overall, if the investment gap is not addressed throughout the nation's infrastructure sectors by 2020, the economy is expected to lose almost $1 trillion in business sales, resulting in a loss of almost 3.5 million jobs.

"Moreover, if current trends are not reversed, the cumulative cost to the U.S. economy from 2012 to 2020 will be more than $3.1 trillion in GDP and $1.1 trillion in total trade," the report said.

The engineers group recommended $157 billion of additional funding between now and 2020 to meet infrastructure repair and expansion needs, a substantial request especially at a time when lawmakers and the Obama administration are considering ways to slow the growth of U.S. debt.

"Public and private investment and new, innovative strategies are needed to repair, rebuild and revitalize the nation's transportation system," Janet Kavinoky, executive director of transportation and infrastructure for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement accompanying the report.

The study projected the biggest funding gap, $877 billion, for highway and other surface transportation projects needed by 2020. But it also saw funding shortfalls of $629 billion for new electricity generation and transmission, $95 billion for airports, $42 billion for water and sewage and $14 billion for inland waterway and marine ports.

The biggest job losses were seen in retail, construction, medical, business services and the food and drink industry.

Funding for highway projects depends on the federal gasoline tax, which has not been raised in 20 years and is seen as an increasingly ineffective way of raising revenue as automobile fuel efficiency rises.

The report said deteriorating infrastructure would hurt U.S. productivity and international competitiveness in various ways, such as longer travel times and higher costs for water and energy.

"Goods will be more expensive to produce and more expensive to transport to retail shelves for households or to business customers. Business-related travel, as well as commuting and personal travel, will also become more expensive," the report said.

The study projected the funding gap for infrastructure projects to swell to $4.7 trillion by 2040, resulting in nearly 7 million lost jobs.

(Reporting by Doug Palmer)

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Comments (8)
moneywon wrote:
Ooh ooh I know! A quadrillion dollar coin! So much simpler than acting like sane, rational adults who have to live near each other for the next few decades. Of course we only elect those that can afford to not live near you, so there’s that…

Jan 15, 2013 11:24am EST  --  Report as abuse
flashrooster wrote:
And Republicans resist acknowledging this like they resist acknowledging global warming; or that too much in the way of spending cuts too soon will hurt our economy and possibly send us back into a recession; or that more guns really don’t reduce gun violence; or that gerrymandering doesn’t promote democracy; or that our current healthcare system is bankrupting millions of Americans and really ISN’T the world’s best system.

Certainly Democrats, like any political party anywhere, have their problems, but the Republicans pose a very serious threat to our nation’s future and our present well-being, in no small part because of their inability or their reluctance to accept scientific conclusions or simply recognize the obvious.

China knows how important having a modern infrastructure is to their economy. We used to know, but the Republicans are insisting otherwise, based on… nothing.

Jan 15, 2013 11:31am EST  --  Report as abuse
jaroca wrote:
The last number I heard mentioned on a couple of network talking head shows seemed to quote a similar number….$5 Billion a month for our current fiasco(s) of fighting in the WTFistans.

We can afford or allow ourselves to put that on the credit card but we cannot take care of our own home?

How stupid are we as a nation? Really, think about it!!! You guys that like democracy at the point of a gun at any cost. Dead and maimed of our own, never mind the innocents abroad. WHY ???

Recently the House Tea idiots held up a funding bill for repairs to the Capitol building (the dome – major roof problems,leaking,cracks,etc.) Talk about narrow minded, penurious, and spiteful. These are the same clowns that supposedly take an oath
to protect maintain this nation.

I guess blue tarps on public buildings, duct taped sewer and water lines, wrecking yard parts holding trains and railyards together is going to be the new normal.

No money for real trades and good jobs, no more trade schools to develop practical skills, no clear health program and education taking a beating, our physical structure crumbling but it’s OK to borrow for fighting and weaponry and continue huge tax by-passes for the uber-wealthy. Trickle down my arse !!

Your forebearers would be ashamed of your poor choices and priorities.

You no longer get what you pay for….you get what you deserve and allow to happen.

Jan 15, 2013 1:07pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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