How to Fix a Recession: Public Works Work

We’ve seen modest improvements in employment since the infamous Great Recession began in 2007, but the recovery has been very slow. We see the evidence all around us – from the 11.3 million Americans who remain unemployed (37.9 percent whom have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more); to the anemic 169,000 jobs created in August; to the 1.8 million home foreclosures reported in 2012. The need for an economic defibrillator is clear. 

Our current fiscal policies are not getting the job done. The research is clear: austerity programs cost Americans jobs. And they’re starving much-needed investments in basic research and development and infrastructure repairs and improvements that help American commerce prosper. Since interest rates are still very low, now is a great time to make long-term investments that our national infrastructure desperately needs.

Investments in public works projects played a major role in pushing our economy out of the Great Depression 80 years ago; they put millions of Americans back to work and helped build an infrastructure that drove long-term economic growth and that is still in use today. New Deal projects such as the Fort Peck Dam, Triborough Bridge, and Chicago’s Midway Airport put thousands of Americans to work and added tremendous utility to our infrastructure.  There are many hundreds more examples of these successful New Deal projects.  (Download our infographic.)

And the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created or saved 2-3 million jobs, largely through public investments. A recent U.S. Department of Treasury Report confirms the potential job creation that could come from greater public investments in infrastructure projects:

New data and analyses confirm and strengthen our finding that now is an ideal time to increase our investment in infrastructure for the following four key reasons:

  • Well-designed infrastructure investments have long-term economic benefits and create jobs in the short run;
  • This economic activity and job creation is especially timely as there is currently a high level of underutilized resources that can be used to improve and expand our infrastructure;
  • Middle-class Americans would benefit disproportionately from this investment through both the creation of middle-class jobs and by lowering transportation costs for American households; and
  • There is strong demand by the public and businesses for additional transportation infrastructure capacity.

It’s time to double down on getting Americans back to work and modernize our infrastructure for the 21st century. 

It’s time to invest in America.

Note: Click image below to enlarge.

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