- The Associated Builders and Contractors estimates that a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan like the one proposed by President Donald Trump could create nearly 2.6 million construction jobs from 2019 to 2021. ABC's estimate is based on analysis of U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics data and a model developed by economic consulting company Markstein Advisors.
- The ABC's evaluation starts with $1.23 trillion of total construction spending in 2017 and assumes 4% growth in 2018 to $1.28 trillion; another 4% increase in 2019 to $1.33 trillion; 3% growth in 2020 to $1.37 trillion and another 3% in 2021 to $1.42 trillion. Using Markstein's model and the government's private-sector employment data, the ABC analysis shows that every $1 billion in construction spending creates more than 6,300 construction jobs.
- The president's plan as proposed would create extra infrastructure spending of $50 billion in 2019, $150 billion in 2020 and $200 billion in 2021. This level of output would generate 323,000 new jobs in 2019, 960,000 in 2020 and 1.3 million in 2021. These estimates are in addition to the jobs created as a result of general construction industry growth and exclude those who are classified as self-employed.
The president's infrastructure plan is, at best, a proposal right now. Last month, the White House said it would likely table infrastructure until after the November midterm elections. Eventually, however, Congress and the administration will have to hammer out an agreement and figure out where they will find the $200 billion direct federal spend necessary to pay for the plan if it is to become a reality. Recent media reports cast doubt on the appearance of a bill until next year, and some federal lawmakers are calling the proposal "dead," given the Republican leadership's unwillingness to push for the necessary funding.
Even the public has started to doubt the likelihood that the plan will ever take flight. A Monmouth University poll, the results of which were released May 22, found that only 10% of respondents believed that it was very likely Trump's infrastructure proposal will ever come to fruition, with 25% answering that it is not at all likely to materialize. The majority of participants (55%) said that the president was not paying enough attention to U.S. transportation infrastructure.
But an even bigger obstacle is certain to emerge if the plan actually sees some movement, and that is the issue of labor and where exactly contractors will find millions of additional workers skilled enough to do the work. Some companies have started to offer signing bonuses, and wages are starting to come up, but there's no indication that there is a ready pool of workers available to tackle the increase in general construction work, never mind a program that will require more than 300,000 extra workers in its first year alone.