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wholly dependent on the work done by
the U.S. transportation construction
industry. These “transportation dependent
industries” employ nearly 80 million
Americans, who collectively earn more
than $2.8 trillion each year and pay more
than $233 billion in state and federal pay-
roll taxes.
Enormous challenges face the U.S. trans-
portation infrastructure network. These
will have a direct impact on U.S. produc-
tivity and economic competitiveness in
years to come.
From 1980 to 2006, the vehicle miles
traveled (VMT) in the United States by
automobiles increased 97 percent. During
the same period, VMT by trucks increased
106 percent. Traffic congestion is now
costing the nation’s economy more than
$87 billion annually, according to the Texas
Transportation Institute. Meanwhile, road
capacity, as measured by the number of
highway lane miles added to the system,
grew just 4.4 percent.
Without changes to current policy, the
revenues raised by all levels of govern-
ment for capital investment will only be
about one-third ($66.6 billion) of the
$200 billion that the U.S. Department of
Transportation believes necessary to
maintain and improve the nation’s high-
ways and transit systems. The estimated
cumulative gap between federal revenues
for transportation and investment needs
of the system are $400 billion from 2010
to 2015. The federal gas tax, which
f inances highway and transit capital
investments (and is not adjusted annually
for inflation), has lost 33 percent of
its purchasing power since last raised
in 1993.
More than half of the miles on the fed-
eral-aid highway system are in less than
good condition and nearly 17 percent
need major reconstruction, repair or reha-
bilitation. Nearly 25 percent of the
nation’s bridges are structurally deficient
or functionally obsolete.
The passage of a robust multi-year federal
surface transportation bill is absolutely
crucial to the future of the transportation
construction industry and the millions of
American jobs directly and indirectly
supported by this economic activity.
Not only is this investment important
for transportation construction, but also
the ripple effect of that activity can be felt
throughout the U.S. economy and all
business sectors. If the immediate eco-
nomic impact is not enough, consider the
long-term benef its: When people and
goods are able to move more efficiently
across the country, more economic activ-
ity is generated. In turn, this stimulates
new growth and improves our quality of
life for the next generation.
Alison Black is an ARTBA senior economist and
vice president of policy. The ARTBA report, which
also contains fact sheets for all 50 states, can be
found in the “economics and research” section of Black can be reached at
U.S. Transportation Construction
Industry: Enormous Scope
ARTBA reports that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau data, more than 1,316,974
individual business establishments and public agencies are directly involved, at least
partially, in transportation infrastructure design, construction or management activi-
ties in the United States. These include:
• 19,438 highway and bridge contractor firms that employ the equivalent of 330,981
men and women full-time;
• 794,122 general construction firms whose transportation work supports the equiv-
alent of 276,349 full-time jobs;
• 349,491 design and engineering firms whose transportation work supports the
equivalent of 40,199 full-time jobs;
• 1,615 asphalt manufacturing firms whose transportation project sales support the
equivalent of 6,450 full-time jobs;
• 6,100 aggregate and materials firms whose transportation market sales support
the equivalent of 15,878 full-time jobs;
• 8,732 cement and concrete firms whose transportation project sales support the
equivalent of 16,874 full-time jobs;
• 132,733 construction equipment manufacturing, sales, rental and maintenance
firms whose transportation market sales support the equivalent of 16, 874 full-
time jobs;
• 1,593 traffic safety and control device manufacturers or distributors whose trans-
portation market sales support the equivalent of 3,014 fulltime jobs.
Also, the ARTBA reports that slightly more than 839,000 Americans are employed
full time by federal, state or local transportation agencies. At least one state level
transportation agency exists in all 50 states. A local government transportation
agency operates in most of the nation’s 3,100 counties and several hundred larger
cities and metropolitan areas. At the federal level, the U.S. Department of
Transportation has nearly 57,000 employees.