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Study: Infrastructure troubles point to huge economic losses

The federal government needs to invest in the country’s sagging infrastructure or face economic consequences, a new study suggests.

If the U.S. does not address the well-known public safety problem of its deteriorating bridges and ports, the American Society of Civil Engineers projects a total of $3.1 trillion of economic output and 3.5 million jobs would be lost over the coming decade.

“Employment, personal income, and GDP will all fall due to inaction,” the group said in a press release.

The report, titled “Failure to Act”, details the expansive shortfall to fix basic infrastructure that assists in nearly all economic activity.

“The results show that deteriorating infrastructure, long known to be a public safety issue, has a cascading impact on the nation’s economy, negatively affecting business productivity, gross domestic product, employment, personal income and international competitiveness,” the report said.

An investment of $2.7 trillion is needed, though the group estimates that only $1.6 trillion will be spent, leaving a $1.1 trillion investment gap.

“Overall, if the investment gap is not addressed throughout the nation’s infrastructure sectors by 2020, the economy is expected to lose almost $1 trillion in business sales, resulting in a loss of almost 3.5 million jobs,” the study says.

“Moreover, if current trends are not reversed, the cumulative cost to the U.S. economy from 2012 to 2020 will be more than $3.1 trillion in GDP and $1.1 trillion in total trade.”

“Public and private investment and new, innovative strategies are needed to repair, rebuild and revitalize the nation’s transportation system,” Janet Kavinoky, executive director of transportation and infrastructure for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement accompanying the report.

The biggest infrastructure shortfall lies within the transportation sector. Roads and bridges will need nearly a $1 trillion, $846 billion, to be fully functional. Airport will need $39 billion and marine ports and waterways will need $16 billion.

“If we don’t invest now, Americans pay more in the long run,” said Gregory DiLoreto, president of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

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