The cornerstone of infrastructure is job creation. President Biden recently unveiled the American Jobs Plan, an infrastructure plan designed to invest in job creation as the U.S. emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brookings Institute Senior Research Associate Joseph Kane broke down the proposed infrastructure investment, career pathways and why now is the perfect time to invest in infrastructure on the AWF Union Podcast.
Investing in infrastructure
Kane talked about how infrastructure is an investment. While a federal plan is possible and needed, much of the infrastructure investments throughout the U.S. is done at the local and state level. He explained how analyzing the economic needs and usage patterns of an area can help craft a better plan.
The most important way to develop an infrastructure plan is by looking at it through needs. Kane said the plan will always have a price tag, but if you can justify the spending with what is needed and what it may return, the cost is typically worth it.
Hiring local workers to build infrastructure projects does more than give someone a job, it is an investment into the local economy. People will spend the tax dollars where they earn them, making an infrastructure plan even more worth the cost.
Infrastructure career paths
Kane said jobs created through infrastructure investment are normally thought of as new construction jobs. However, a new age infrastructure plan needs to focus on operation and maintenance jobs to keep people employed longer. An added benefit of hiring people into these positions is the increased longevity of infrastructure.
These jobs are also valuable because they do not cause people to go into debt, unlike many jobs with a college degree requirement. Since much of the training for these careers is done on-the-job, Kane said they are valuable as student debt continues to grow.
While there are still many Americans facing unemployment from the COVID-19 pandemic, Kane said employers will have to put in an effort to find workers. These jobs are physically demanding, so enticing wages and benefits must be offered in order to get the best workers.