Report: Infrastructure investment will boost jobs, growth and wages

Boosting long-term investment for the nation’s aging infrastructure will grow jobs, the economy and wages, a new study showed on Tuesday.

Budget cuts over the past decade are hampering economic growth and manufacturers are urging Congress use the fresh data to campaign for more spending on everything from roads and bridges to ports, inland waterways and the electrical grid.

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“The United States is stuck in a decade-long period of decline that will eventually harm job creation, future productivity and our ability to compete head-to-head with companies all over the globe,” said National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons.

"As this study demonstrates, substantial economic benefits result from a targeted and long-term increase in public infrastructure investments from public and private sources," he said about the NAM study that was conducted by Inforum at the University of Maryland.

Timmons said the nation's infrastructure is "the lifeblood of robust commerce" and more attention needs to be paid to ensuring that all components are up to date and helping businesses flourish rather than creating more uncertainty.

Congress needs to focus on long-term spending plans, which have been elusive since the recession hit in 2007, instead of a patchwork process, he said. 

"What we can’t accept is inaction," Timmons said. 

He argued that the study should provide Congress with the "ammunition and support they need to take these issues up."

Timmons said that there is broad agreement that something needs to be done and the report quantifies the need. 

But gas tax revenues simply can’t keep up with needs and lawmakers and business groups will need to look to all potential sources, including state and local governments, to provide the needed financing. 

The study forecasts the creation of 1.3 million jobs over the next 15 years, 1.3 percent growth by 2020 and 2.9 percent by 2030 and an increase in take-home pay after taxes — a $1,300 net gain per household by 2020 and $4,400 by 2030 (measured in 2009 dollars)

The report said that for every $1 invested by 2030 will bring a $3 return.

Timmons said the report reveals a decade of troubling trends, including a 3.5 percent annual drop in the volume of highway, road and bridge investments as well as sharp decreases in mass transit, aviation and water transportation infrastructure spending.

A separate study by NAM last year showed that 70 percent of manufacturers think that U.S. infrastructure is in fair or poor shape and needs a great deal or quite a bit of improvement.

Jeffrey Werling, Inforum's executive director, suggested pumping $50 billion to $100 billion into infrasturcture improvements each year from a mix of public and private sources.