Monday, May 12, 2014

Infrastructure jobs can boost U.S. employment; highway funding push continues

Beyond shovel-ready
highway workerInfrastructure jobs need more definition, Brookings says, and the institute’s report, “Beyond Shovel-Ready: The Extent and Impact of U.S. Infrastructure Jobs,” aims to define employment in all aspects of infrastructure, including design, construction, operation and governance. It notes that jobs in infrastructure can aid in the continuing U.S. recovery from the Great Recession.
The report suggests that in order to determine the jobs that are included in infrastructure, it is important to define what exactly infrastructure is. The report offers the following definition:
“In general, infrastructure encompasses a broad range of systems and facilities designed, constructed, operated, and governed across the public and private sector. Foundational in nature, these physical assets are either manmade or natural, often operate as part of larger networks, support a variety of economic activities, and provide a host of other services with a clear public benefit over the course of many years.”
It also divides infrastructure into seven sectors, defining each:
  • Intra-Metro Transportation: local roads and bridges, public transit (subways and buses), taxis and limousines, sightseeing transportation and bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure
  • Inter-Metro Transportation: passenger rail, airports, highways and inter-urban and rural bus transportation
  • Trade and Logistics: freight rail, air cargo operations, trucking, seaports/inland waterways, transportation support and warehousing and express/local delivery services
  • Energy: the generation, transmission, and distribution of energy from natural gas (pipelines), facilities responsible for electricity (nuclear, hydroelectric and solar/wind) and other utilities
  • Water: clean/drinking water, stormwater, wastewater, sewage/water treatment facilities and “green” infrastructure for conserving related natural resources
  • Telecommunications: broadband and transmission infrastructure (wired, wireless and satellite), concentrated in facilities outside radio and television broadcasting
  • Public Works: streetscapes, land redevelopment and waste/landfills (solid waste, hazardous materials and remediation)
bridge workerThe report determines that 95 occupations and 42 industries are linked to infrastructure.
According to the report, 14.2 million workers, or 11 percent of the nation’s workforce, had jobs related to infrastructure in 2012. Among them, only 6 percent are involved with design and 15 percent with construction. The majority (77 percent) are primarily involved with operation.
Other findings include:
  • A combined total of 9.1 million infrastructure workers (64 percent of the U.S. total) are employed in the 100 largest metropolitan areas
  • Infrastructure jobs offer more than 30 percent higher wages than jobs at lower ends of the income scale ($24,750 and $30,190 annually, versus $18,090 and $22,480 annually)
  • Infrastructure occupations offer higher median wages ($38,480) than the national median ($34,750)
  • With a 2.5 ratio of wages earned at the 90th and 10th percentile, infrastructure offers a more even distribution compared to other occupations in the U.S.
  • 12 percent of infrastructure workers hold a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • For 57 percent of infrastructure employees, the highest level of education is a high school diploma or less
  • 67 of the 95 infrastructure occupations only require a high school diploma or less for entry
  • 59 of the 67 occupations (including paving equipment operators) pay higher wages to workers at the 10th percentile than nationally
  • 73 of the 95 infrastructure occupations (10 million workers) require short- or long-term on-the-job training, or an apprenticeship
  • Nearly 6 million workers in 64 of the 73 occupations earn higher wages at the 10th and 25th percentile
  • Infrastructure jobs are expected to increase 9.1 percent in the next 10 years
  • 2.7 million workers (23.4 percent) will need to be replaced in the next decade
  • 1.1 million workers are projected to be added to the infrastructure workforce through 2022.

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