In conjunction with its annual meeting, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) has just released a report called “The U.S. Transportation Construction Industry Profile.” I think it's a real eye-opener.
This new report shows that the annual value of transportation construction in the US will surpass $120 billion this year. This ranks higher than industry sectors such as farming ($97.5 billion) and coal mining ($29.8 billion).
More importantly, the report says money invested this year in transportation construction will generate more than $380 billion in economic activity. That is nearly 3% of America's gross domestic product (GDP), and it's actually more than the GDP of 160 nations, including Saudi Arabia ($370 billion) and Kuwait ($111 billion).
You know, when I talk about renewing America's transportation infrastructure through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, I focus on jobs because that is a real priority for our nation. And by the end of this year the Recovery Act will have saved or created 3.5 million jobs.
But I also talk a lot about the indirect economic activity generated by transportation construction. And when $120 billion in direct activity from an industry stimulates more than $380 billion in spending, that is what I call a real ripple effect.
“Transportation infrastructure makes all kinds of other economic activity possible. Tourism, manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, agriculture, forestry, general construction, mining, retailing and wholesaling are all wholly dependent on the work done by the U.S. transportation construction industry. And these, what I call dependent industries, employ nearly 80 million Americans.”
According to the report, each year more than 19.4 million tons of freight with a value of $14.2 trillion are shipped over our transportation network. Our roadways make possible more than 5 trillion in highway passenger miles, and our commuter and passenger railways make possible nearly 10 million trips. And, in 2008, that infrastructure was worth $2.97 trillion, or 32% of the value of all fixed assets in the United States.
Not only does transportation construction trigger immediate economic activity that creates and sustains good jobs. It also leads to ripple effects that multiply the value of our nation's investments in transportation. And it builds American assets that last for many decades and provide all of us access to jobs, services, materials and markets.