Commercial truck driver jobs are forecast to make some of the biggest gains if the administration’s infrastructure package can get through Congress without major revisions, according to a report analyzing the plan.
The report, by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW), was published just as the president was releasing his American Jobs Plan last week. It is based on infrastructure-related policy data and information that the administration has made public over the past year, including the infrastructure plan rolled out during the presidential campaign.
“Nothing in the package announced by the president last week changes our calculations in terms of jobs created or saved,” a Georgetown CEW spokesperson told FreightWaves.
If the $2 trillion infrastructure program is enacted, it “could put the United States back on a pre-recession job growth path and create and/or save 15 million jobs,” according to the report. It estimated that infrastructure jobs averaged 12% of all jobs in the U.S. economy prior to the pandemic. Mid-pandemic, the number of infrastructure jobs in 2020 averaged 11% of all jobs, “reflective of the general malaise in employment across the labor force.” The report estimates that under the plan, infrastructure-related jobs would increase temporarily to 14% of the total job market.
“Transportation and materials moving” make up 60% of the infrastructure related occupations either created or saved by the plan, according to the report (see table below). Within that category, jobs for commercial drivers of heavy trucks and light truck/delivery drivers would account for 1.9 million and 901,300 jobs, respectively — roughly 2.81 million jobs total — which is close to 20% of the 15 million jobs estimated in the report.
Roughly 20% of the infrastructure jobs created under the proposal would be in Midwestern states, with 22% going to states in the Southeast, including such states as Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia, “which have some of the lowest median household incomes in the nation,” the report points out.
Getting the plan through Congress could be a heavy lift for Democrats. Major lobbying groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Trucking Associations — while supportive of getting an infrastructure bill passed — oppose having it paid for by the plan’s proposed corporate tax hike from 21% to 28%.
The report contends, however, that while Republicans may not support the plan as proposed, their voters may.
“An infrastructure program would be good for their working-class supporters who feel left behind by economic change,” the report states, estimating that of the 15 million jobs that could be created with this infrastructure stimulus, 8.6 million would be in Democratic-leaning states, and 6.4 million would be in Republican-leaning states.
“There would be 2.7 million infrastructure jobs just in the seven closely contested states that were key to the outcome of the 2020 presidential election: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.”
The report also notes “legitimate labor market concerns” about how jobs would be distributed when taking gender into account. It estimates that jobs held by women have accounted for close to 55% of all jobs lost since the pandemic began. But because infrastructure jobs tend to be male-dominated — 90% are currently held by men — “efforts need to be made to ensure inclusion of women as infrastructure jobs are expanded.”