Nearly 10,000 PA jobs permanently at risk with impending bridge and highway cuts

August 1, 2013

Cutting highway and bridge work by 25 percent and sustaining that cut in the years ahead would put as many as 9,600 Pennsylvania jobs permanently at risk and cost the state $1.25 billion in lost economic activity over a five-year period, an industry economist told the Senate Transportation Committee this week.

Dr. Alison Premo-Black, chief economist for the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), was invited to testify before the committee based on a report she authored on behalf the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors. It looked at the potential impact of a decrease in the state’s highway and bridge investment from the current $4.3 billion market to $3.8 billion in 2017.

“In this scenario, Pennsylvania contractors will demand fewer materials, equipment and supplies as the overall market opportunities decline and they have fewer projects backlogged,” Black explained.

More than half of the jobs lost would be in sectors other than highway construction, she said. According to the report, nearly 1,000 lost jobs will be in the retail sector, with another 900 related to other administrative and professional services. Nearly eight percent of the job losses could be in the manufacturing sector, and the healthcare industry could lose over 600.

“As workers in the highway and bridge construction industry spend their paychecks by going out to dinner, buying clothes, paying rent or shopping at area stores, they are creating additional demand for goods and services throughout the Pennsylvania economy,” she said. “We call this the indirect effect.”

Appearing before the committee with Dr. Black, APC executive vice president Bob Latham reiterated the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition’s position that the $2.5 billion increase in SB 1 as passed by the Senate is the minimum needed not a maximum.  “In 2010, the Transportation Advisory Committee identified the needs gap at $3.5 billion per year growing at $1 million per day.  Today, that gap stands at $4.5 billion,” said Latham.

To read Dr. Black’s entire testimony, click here.


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