No Reason to Wait: Rebuild Now to Save American Competitiveness

Invest in Transportation Infrastructure to Support 2.48 Million Jobs

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

Infrastructure capacity constraints lead to delays, congestion, and disruptions that affect everyone: citizens, consumers, manufacturers, buyers, sellers, importers and exporters. Rebuilding world-class transportation infrastructure in the United States increases the efficiency of domestic commerce and international trade. And it creates American jobs. – Lukas Brun, senior research analyst at Duke 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 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. This research shows the potential for federal infrastructure investments to boost jobs in every state and strengthen manufacturing. – Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM)

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 United States less competitive than many of our top trading partners, with global assessments ranking the United States 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 utilizing 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.”


Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle agree, there's no reason to wait.

Manufacturing is the engine behind both Louisiana’s and our national economy – and we need policies that invest in our nation’s roads, bridges, ports and other infrastructure to connect our supply chain and get quality American-made products to market. As the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, I am committed to making the investment in critical infrastructure projects that will help to create jobs at home and ensure our manufacturers remain competitive abroad. – Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)

The success of our economy rests in large part on the ability of businesses to move goods quickly, affordably, and reliably. This report shows that investing in our roads, bridges, ports, and other critical infrastructure can improve all of those measures and put businesses in Delaware and across the country in a stronger position to successfully compete in a global marketplace. There’s simply no good reason to wait another year to put in place the long-term plan that our cities, states and businesses need. – Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)

It is no secret that our nation's infrastructure is crumbling.  As a member of the Senate public works committee, I have long been fighting to increase funding to repair and improve our roads, bridges, ports, and other critical infrastructure. Rebuilding America’s infrastructure is not just one of the best ways to create the jobs our economy needs, but it also makes our country more competitive in the global economy. –Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

I agree that we need a multi-year surface transportation bill that will encourage job creation and American manufacturing. The bill should provide certainty and reliability, as well as relief from bureaucratic barriers that cause projects to stall.  States and local communities need flexibility to respond to the needs of local citizens, rather than a long list of directives from federal officials in Washington. – Sen. John Boozman (R-AR)

This report is a call to action to make meaningful investments in our roads, bridges, ports and infrastructure. With almost 28,000 jobs on the line in New Jersey, these investments are critical. Underinvestment and broken transportation infrastructure costs American jobs and makes us less competitive. I’m committed to working with my colleagues to make sure we pass a comprehensive, forward-thinking transportation bill. – Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)

Targeted, long-term infrastructure investments are vital to strengthening our nation’s economy and ensuring that thousands of hardworking Ohioans continue to rebuild our roads and bridges. Thousands of manufacturing jobs rely on sound infrastructure and Ohio manufacturers depend on our roads, rails, and ports to carry their goods to market. When companies decide where to locate, expand, and invest, water, transportation and energy infrastructure are critical factors in the decision. Investing in infrastructure is about investing in our nation’s competitiveness. – Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

With nearly 80,000 manufacturing jobs on the line in West Virginia alone, it is past time for the federal government to make our highways, roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure a top priority. It is common sense to invest in these vital projects to boost economic prosperity across America and ensure we remain globally competitive. This report is another call to action for Congress to stop kicking the can down the road and address our country’s infrastructure needs. – Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)

We must build a 21st century transportation network that meets the demands of our 21st century economy, and that means improving our roads, bridges, and rail and barge systems," said. "This report underscores how smart infrastructure investments can boost America’s competitiveness in the global economy and make it easier for manufacturers in Minnesota and across the country to get their goods to market. – Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

Rebuilding America's infrastructure is one of the best ways to make our country more competitive and create jobs. U.S. manufacturing companies and American workers benefit when we rebuild our highways and bridges, especially when we rely on American-made goods to get the job done. – Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV)

The best and most direct way Congress can create jobs and make our economy more competitive is through robust investments in our transportation infrastructure. And if it’s our tax dollars being used, then they ought to spent on U.S. manufactured products, employing American workers. This report by the Alliance for American Manufacturing offers another clarion call for action. We must Make It In America. – Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA)

This report shows that tackling massive and growing infrastructure needs is critical to a well-functioning economy and our national competitiveness. With almost 27,500 jobs on the line in Missouri, our manufacturers and businesses need an efficient and reliable network to get their products to markets near and far. – Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO)