A report out from the Department of Treasury this week reveals that fixing America’s roads and bridges will not only improve our drive to the store, it will help the country’s middle class and our long term economic health, too.
The new report (PDF) discusses the numerous benefits of investing in transportation infrastructure. Spending on infrastructure is one of the best ways to invest transportation funds. The fact that these projects create good, new jobs – and lots of them – is one big reason why. Yesterday’s report found that 72% of the jobs created by infrastructure spending are middle class jobs, defined as those which pay between the 25th and 75th percentile of the national distribution of wages. New jobs are a huge boon for the construction industry in particular, which is facing unemployment rates at nearly twice the national average.
Job creation isn’t the only way these projects help middle class families. In a press conference Monday, President Obama explained that his recommendations focus on providing families with public transportation options like mass transit and high speed rail. The Treasury report explains why this decision is so helpful to working families:
The average American family spends more than $8,600 a year on transportation, one-third more than they spend on food. For the 90 percent of Americans who are not among the top decile in income, transportation costs absorb one out of every six dollars of income. This burden is due in large part to the lack of alternatives to expensive and often congested automobile travel. Multi-modal transportation investments are critical to get American families moving again without wasting their time and their money sitting in traffic.
For many working families, having access to public transportation is the difference between having a job and being unemployed, or between getting to school, the grocery store, or the doctor and not. After years of heavy investments in roads and highways, Americans are beginning to demand better public transportation options. And in an economy still struggling to rebound, spending federal dollars in fiscally-responsible ways that create good, new jobs is good not just for the working class but for taxpayers everywhere.
Click here to download a copy of the Department of Treasury’s new report, “An Economic Analysis of Infrastructure Investment.” (PDF)