Highway Funding: 700,000 Lost Jobs?
“All told, nearly 700,000 jobs could be at risk next year.”
That was President Obama earlier this month, urging Congress to bail out the federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF). He warned failure to act would be the equivalent of Congress laying off the “entire population of Denver, or Seattle, or Boston.”
A November 2013 paper by James Sherk, Senior Policy Analyst in Labor Economics at The Heritage Foundation, provides some different numbers:
“Across the U.S., just over 300,000 Americans work in highway, street, or bridge construction—less than the population of Wichita, Kansas.”
Obama’s math just doesn’t add up.
How can a 7-percent reduction in total highway spending destroy 700,000 jobs when only 300,000 Americans work in the industry?
According to Sherk, the White House “is getting these huge numbers by estimating a ‘multiplier’ effect from federal transportation spending.” Yes, just like they used a multiplier to project Obama’s 2009 stimulus would “create or save” 3.5 million jobs.
President Obama should ditch the scare tactics. And lawmakers should ignore the massive numbers concocted to scare them into raising taxes and increasing spending. Living within the trust fund’s means is an important step toward real reforms.