Congressional Republicans in 2011 blocked the American Jobs Act, which included some desperately needed funds for infrastructure improvements. But even the money in that bill would have been a drop in the proverbial bucket when it comes to America’s infrastructure needs.
According to a new report from the American Society of Civil Engineers, America’s infrastructure deficit stands at $1.6 trillion and will grow to $2.75 trillion over the next decade, costing the country trillions of dollars in wasted economic potential and millions of jobs:
[T]he consequences of infrastructure shortfalls differ by each system. With degrading surface transportation, trips can still be made, but they would take longer and be less reliable, and travel could be less safe. Declining airport and marine port infrastructure directly impacts the nation’s ability to import and export goods efficiently, driving up costs to U.S. consumers.
Overall, if the investment gap is not addressed throughout the nation’s infrastructure sectors, by 2020, the economy is expected to lose almost $1 trillion in business sales, resulting in a loss of 3.5 million jobs. Moreover, if current trends are not reversed, the cumulative cost to the U.S. economy from 2012–2020 will be more than $3.1 trillion in GDP and $1.1 trillion in total trade.
A recent study found that infrastructure investments provide a major boost to the economy, but public investment has plunged since the Great Recession (even as the U.S. is paying record low rates to borrow money).