New Report Calls for Infrastructure Investment to Create American Jobs

Washington’s piecemeal approach to investing in the nation’s decaying transportation infrastructure costs the U.S. 900,000 jobs – more than 97,000 in manufacturing – and makes our country less competitive than its top trading partners, according to a new report by the Duke University’s Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness (CGGC).

Congress last passed a long-term transportation authorization bill in 2005. In July of this year, Congress was only able to pass another short-term funding patch, which expires in May 2015. The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) says the new Duke report demonstrates that delay and underinvestment is causing a decline in American competitiveness and reducing potential employment. Each $1 billion invested in transportation infrastructure creates 21,671 jobs, the report found.

“Congress’ top priority should be closing the gap between our infrastructure needs and the investment required to reclaim lost competitiveness and put Americans back to work,” commented Scott Paul, president of AAM. “This research shows the potential for federal infrastructure investments to boost jobs in every state and strengthen manufacturing.”

The Duke researchers evaluated the jobs impact of three annual funding scenarios—current funding, President Obama’s Grow America plan, and the Department of Transportation’s needs assessment. The study concludes that a long-term transportation bill of $114 billion annually would support upwards of 2.48 million American jobs and rebuild our underperforming infrastructure.

Other findings include:

  • Every dollar invested in transportation infrastructure returns $3.54 in economic impact.

  • Deficient and decaying infrastructure makes the U.S. less competitive than many of our top trading partners, with global assessments ranking the U.S. 16 out of 144 nations and 6 among our top 15 trading partners.

  • The U.S. invests on average $848 per person annually on transportation investments compared to the European Union’s $2,589 per person. This underinvestment has contributed to a $900 billion backlog in needed investments and repairs in the U.S.

The report also examines the ramifications of building large infrastructure projects using foreign-made construction inputs. Its center span built with steel made in China, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge faced numerous delays and cost overruns during its construction and now faces a potential government investigation due to serious safety concerns. Meanwhile, the rebuild of New York’s Tappan Zee Bridge, which is using domestic steel, is expected to come in on time and under budget, and serve New York for 100 years without major structural maintenance.

Duke University’s CGGC partnered with AAM to conduct an assessment of three major issues related to federal investment in transportation infrastructure: competitiveness, job creation, and procurement.

“A safe, world-class transportation infrastructure,” the report concludes, “can create new jobs through greater efficiency, increased competitiveness, and more overall demand.”

The report is available for free downloading on AAM’s website at