Where the jobs could be

Washington State Department of Transportation bridge engineers Jim Harding, left, and James Dorgan inspect columns and exterior girders on the Alaskan Way Viaduct during its semi-annual inspection October 24, 2009 in downtown Seattle, Wash.

Jeremy Hobson: Good morning I'm Jeremy Hobson, with the answer to the question that's been on the minds of all Americans
for the last 12 hours or so: will President Obama unveil his jobs plan on Wednesday, the same night as the Republican Presidential debate, or on Thursday? It'll be Thursday -- so set your DVRs. The President gave in to House Speaker John Boehner's scheduling request late last night.

As for the actual substance of what the President will say, we know he's going to call for more investment in infrastructure.

We asked Marketplace's David Gura to look into how many jobs more federal funding of infrastructure could create.


David Gura: It's not hard to find a bridge to repair, a dam to replace or a road to repave.

Robert Frank teaches economics at Cornell University.

Robert Frank: This is one area where finding a useful job to do is just not a challenge.

Frank told me to look at an "infrastructure report card (PDF)" the American Society of Civil Engineers put together a couple of years ago.

Kathy Caldwell: Bridges got a C. Roads are a D-. Transit is a D.

That's Kathy Caldwell, the group's president. Overall, U.S. infrastructure got a D. Caldwell says she and her colleagues have done some number crunching.

Caldwell: In general, $1 billion spent on the infrastructure creates 35,000 new jobs.

And Nobel Prize-winning economist Peter Diamond says there's no time like the present.

Peter Diamond: There's going to be big-time infrastructure spending sooner or later anyway.

Right now, interest rates are low; materials aren't that expensive. And Diamond says we've got the opportunity to help our short-term problem -- unemployment -- without making our long-term problems worse.

In Washington, I'm David Gura for Marketplace.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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