There is not a business, small or large, in America that can survive, let alone grow, without access to the water, electricity and gas delivered by America’s aging and sometimes failing infrastructure.
If you listen to the news pundits and the President, you might be left with a cautiously optimistic, if not overly optimistic, outlook of the state of our economy and recovery. Statistics reported by the Department of Labor indicated the U.S. Economy added 175,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate ticked up to 6.7 percent from 6.6 percent as more Americans rejoined the workforce. The construction industry added 15,000 jobs which is a good number, but not good enough.
To hear the real story about unemployment, you will have to dig a little deeper into the facts. Since the Great Recession began in December 2007, the economy has shed 8.7 million jobs. Since 2009 when the Great Recession officially ended, the economy has only been able to recover about 8 million of those jobs, meaning the economy is still 700,000 jobs in the red. Further, while the number of unemployed as a percentage of the workforce ticked up to 6.7 percent, this figure only includes individuals who are unemployed and actively pursuing employment. That means the individuals who are currently working part-time jobs or have stopped looking for a job entirely have been excluded from this figure. The true percentage of unemployed, underemployed and long-term unemployed as a part of the workforce is 12.6 percent. That’s not quite the picture of optimism the media and government would like you to believe.
The most frustrating part about it is that we all know how to jumpstart the economy. We know that studies like the Clean Water Council’s Sudden Impact: An Assessment of Short-Term Economic Impacts of Water and Wastewater Construction Projects in the United States prove that investing in infrastructure creates good paying, sustainable jobs. There are numerous studies like Sudden Impact that come to the same conclusion. The fastest and best way to dig America out of our economic struggles is to dig America!
Investing in infrastructure not only creates jobs, but it results in the needed infrastructure for other businesses to build on and grow. There is not a business, small or large, in America that can survive, let alone grow, without access to the water, electricity and gas delivered by America’s aging and sometimes failing infrastructure. The further our country puts off repairing, rebuilding and replacing the very foundation that America’s economy relies on for prosperity, the more difficult it will be for our GDP to grow.
You may not see it tomorrow or next week. It may take years, but the longer our infrastructure is allowed to crumble, the more opportunity our economy will miss and it may never be able to recover. In the meantime, while America waits on Congress to get serious about creating jobs, countries like China and Brazil are investing billions in their infrastructure and closing in on America’s competitive advantage. Without a functioning and reliable infrastructure, American jobs can’t be created, or worse, American companies will be forced to outsource work to areas where the infrastructure is adequate.
It is no longer a matter of our infrastructure being out of sight and out of mind, because America can’t afford to let it be out of mind. It will cost too much. The longer we wait for infrastructure investment, the more expensive the work will be to taxpayers. The longer we wait for infrastructure investment, the greater share of our economic future we are conceding to our foreign competitors. The longer we wait for infrastructure investment, the more we are robbing our future generations, businesses and bank accounts of future earnings and jobs.
We can’t afford to let our infrastructure stay out of mind as individuals, businesses and a country.
NUCA’s Government Relations team has been working hard to ensure infrastructure remains at the forefront of our legislator’s minds, but we need your help. Come to the Washington Summit in May and take an active role in the success of our industry. Those who have attended in the past will tell you how rewarding the experience has been both for their understanding of NUCA’s advocacy and for the benefits to our industry. Politics is not a spectator sport, and the more you’re involved the more you’ll benefit.
The biggest hesitation I hear about getting involved with NUCA’s advocacy is the excuse that things can’t change. That is the biggest farce in politics. Things change all the time; you just have to be willing to make them change. We can make them change together.
Will Brown is the Director of Government Affairs for NUCA.