Photo credit: Evan Brooks
For the actual foundation of any country, infrastructure is an important piece to any economy. From transportation to healthcare, infrastructure aids in the continued determination of your nation’s wealth, connectedness and more. As far as investments go, setting aside funds for the development and maintenance of infrastructure projects is one of the best investments a country can make.
The most straightforward way infrastructure projects aid economies are through providing jobs, both short-term and long-term. Short-term jobs could be the projects themselves, like laying down a road, and the maintenance or repair of that road would provide another employment opportunity. According to an article written by Lester Gunnion, and published by Deloitte, “repair puts people to work and boosts growth in the short-term,” as previously mentioned above. “Building can place infrastructure in growth areas.,” Short-term jobs from projects and repairs, and infrastructure in growing areas “are important for the process of value addition, improving productivity, and the economy’s potential for growth.”
When the growing population of certain areas are met with the proper infrastructure necessary, there is more room for economic growth. The article continued, touching on an “analysis by the Brookings Institution” that “shows that the share of operation and maintenance spending in total public infrastructure spending in the United States has grown steadily, while the share of capital spending has fallen.”
What that means is the focus for the U.S. has been aimed more at “…maintaining existing infrastructure,” highlighting “…the deterioration of aging infrastructure” within the nation.
Contributing more to not only to the maintenance of current infrastructure already in place, but also towards new projects, possibly to replace old and obsolete building projects, would aid the U.S. short-term through jobs and long term through reliable physical networks the economy needs.
According to an article written by Robert Puentes and published by the Brookings Institution, “…infrastructure is the backbone of a healthy economy. It also supports workers, providing millions of jobs each year in building and maintenance,” again highlighting the connection to employment. “A Brookings Institution analysis Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveals that 14 million people have jobs in fields directly related to infrastructure.” Infrastructure is already woven into the fabric of our economy, what should be done is more overall investment.
“Despite the importance of infrastructure, the U.S. has not spent enough for decades to maintain and improve it.” What can be seen when we do not invest enough in our infrastructure locally is the demolition of historic structures like Old Main here at West Chester University (WCU). When we do end up investing in our future, you get projects like the new parking garage, or the SECC building. The U.S. is outspent in percentage of the economy by countries like “…Canada, Australia, South Korea” and China, not to mention the continent of Europe. There is hope though, as “the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the U.S. must spend at least $150 billion more a year on infrastructure through 2020 to meet its needs. This would add about 1.5 percent to annual economic growth and create at least 1.8 million jobs.” The hope comes in the form of President Biden signing a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law back in November of 2021. The question is, will we continue to dedicate necessary funds towards infrastructure in the future?
Overall, I believe stable investment in infrastructure will be hard to find, but it will be necessary for all to ensure that is not the case and the nation provides the necessary investment for our economic prosperity in future.
Evan Brooks is a fourth-year Business Management major with minors in Economics and Civic and Professional Leadership EB916132@wcupa.edu.