Federal report: Neglected infrastructure is hurting construction firms and costing jobs

Treasury Department report details how underinvestment in transportation explains why construction firms are losing billions to congestion and shedding tens of thousands of jobs.

"This new federal report is a sobering reminder of the tremendous economic costs of years of underinvestment in the nation's transportation infrastructure. As the report makes clear, our collective failure to repair aging roads and bridges, expand transportation capacity or address chronic traffic congestion is costing businesses billions in lost productivity and workers tens of thousands of jobs.

"Few segments of our economy are as dependent on transportation infrastructure as the construction industry. Construction orders accounts for one out of every ten manufacturing shipment and one out of every twelve machinery shipments, for example. Yet our own data indicates that congestion and unreliable transportation networks are costing construction firms an estimated $23 billion a year in lost productivity and late deliveries.

"Meanwhile, the construction industry has suffered horrific job losses due to declining demand for construction services, including state and local funded public infrastructure projects. The latest federal figures show that the 17.2 percent construction unemployment rate is nearly double the national average. Construction employment is approaching levels not seen since August 1996.

"That is why the Administration's newfound focus on making significant, long-term investments in rebuilding and expanding transportation infrastructure will provide much-needed help to hard-hit businesses and workers alike. With construction prices down significantly from just a few years ago, now is the right time to make a long-term commitment to the very infrastructure that keeps our businesses competitive, our drivers safe and our communities vibrant," said Stephen E. Sandherr, the chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America.