“The United States of America, 13th in the world in infrastructure.” That’s what President Biden said woefully in his February 2023 State of the Union address. Americans are proud of being winners, and global leaders. But we have fallen behind other countries in infrastructure maintenance and development. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law challenges the engineering and construction industry to improve highways, bridges, water supplies, and rails.
The projects are in the development stages. Later, people may forget how much we spent on this initiative. Whether or not we’re successful will be measured in terms of actual improvements. We can do more with less money if some of the materials aren’t made in America, according to journalist/columnist Matthew Yglesias.
The idea is a worthy one, but currently, our costs are already high and Biden’s setting the bar for spending more “for no real reason,” says Yglesias.
The same month President Biden made his speech, the construction industry forecasted a half-a-million workforce shortage for 2023. Associated Builders and Contractors said, “In 2024, the industry will need to bring in more than 342,000 new workers on top of normal hiring to meet industry demand, and that’s presuming that construction spending growth slows significantly next year.”
Unemployment is at a 50-year low. This may indicate that those who want to work are working and those who don’t aren’t. This also could mean job creation initiatives will be more like robbing Peter to pay Paul. Construction industry workers will be diverted from building houses to building bridges.
Meanwhile, made-in-America materials like steel will be pulled from multifamily housing projects to reinforce bridges.
“Improving America’s infrastructure would help here. But the goal should be to complete those projects as quickly and cheaply as possible in order to maximize the benefits,” says The Exponent Telegram. “One doesn’t need to be a dogmatic free trader to see a problem here.”
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