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Job Horizons
by Jay Allbritton
Jallbritton@ccgmag.com
ECONOMIC STIMULUS PACKAGE: WHERE ARE THE INFRASTRUCTURE JOBS?
In February, President Obama signed the American Recov- The package also includes $1.3 billion for Amtrak up-
ery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, more commonly known as grades. These include restoration of historic stations, track
the economic stimulus package. Over $90 billion is allocated improvements, and other rail facilities; the project is expected
for projects designed to create hundreds of thousands of con- to create or save 6,000 jobs. In March, union electricians began
struction jobs, building and repairing roads, bridges, airports interviewing to fill year-old vacancies.
and rail. Eight states — Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York,
Airports will benefit immensely from the stimulus, which
Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, and Texas — will spend more
adds $1.1 billion to the Airport Improvement Program. One of
than $900 million on transportation projects. The latter two
the first to receive funding is Pittsburgh International Airport.
states alone will spend over $2.8 billion. The states above,
They will get a $10 million two-year grant for repaving and
plus Michigan and New Jersey, will each spend more than
lighting improvements.
$250 million on housing and urban development.
Plenty of overdue road construction and repair projects
The White House projects that over 200,000 jobs will be
await the $27.5 billion in federal stimulus money that will go to
created in Florida and Texas, and nearly 400,000 in California.
state transportation departments. Last year’s soaring oil prices
One prominent economist says there could be 670,000 new
caused an increase in the price of asphalt, which is made up
construction jobs by the end of 2010. A study funded by the
of roughly five percent petroleum. That price hike hurt many
Alliance for American Manufacturing foresees thousands of
departments and forced cash-strapped states to trim roadwork
new jobs for steel makers, concrete and cement companies,
projects. Those states cut back further when gas prices caused
and glass, rubber and plastics makers. And the US Government
Americans to drive less, which in turn reduced gas tax-sup-
Accountability Office projects that the stimulus will create 1.2
plied revenue. Projects such as repaving highways, reinforcing
million to 3.6 million jobs during the next two years.
bridges, and renovating schools all create a high percentage of
Longer term investments like upgrading the nation’s elec- union jobs.
trical grid, expanding broadband Web access, and digitizing
Recently, demand for photovoltaic installers has seen an
medical records may create hundreds of thousands more jobs
increase. Certified PV installers put up solar panels and make
in the STEM professions.
about $15 to $30 an hour.
And the job is not just
PROJECTED STIMULUS TRANSPORTATION SPENDING FOR SPECIFIC STATES
limited to warm climates.
Massachusetts hopes to
increase its installation of
California $3.6 billion
solar panels by 600 percent
by 2012. There are however
Texas $2.6 billion
some skeptics. Last Febru-
ary, prior to a national con-
New York $2.3 billion
ference on green jobs the
non-profit Good Jobs First
Florida $1.7 billion
released “High Road or Low
Road? Job Quality in the
Illinois $1.4 billion
New Green Economy.” The
Pennsylvania $1.4 billion
report noted while some
green jobs pay well many
are minimum wage; employ-
Ohio $1.1 billion
ers are often not unionized,
Georgia $1.1 billion
and many wind and solar
power components are man-
0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5 4.0 ufactured offshore — not in
Billions
the United States.
http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/info-STIMULUS0903.html
www.blackengineer.com USBE & Information Technology I DEANS Edition 2009 45
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