BlueGreen Alliance Report Shows Washington Stands to Gain, Sustain 77,900 Jobs by Repairing, Upgrading Infrastructure

A new report shows Washington State could create or sustain 77,900 jobs by repairing and updating the state's infrastructure.

April 23, 2014

SEATTLE – Labor and environmental leaders today released a new report that showed an estimated 77,900 jobs could be created and sustained across the state’s economy by making much-needed investments in the basic systems we rely on everyday. The report—Repair Washington: Creating Good Jobs, Strengthening Infrastructure, and Building Climate Solutions—focused on the economic and environmental benefits of repairing Washington’s infrastructure—including roads and bridges, clean water, waste water, transit, energy, and natural gas distribution systems.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publishes a Report Card for America’s Infrastructure every four years, and, in 2013 the nation earned a “D+” average. Washington State fared slightly better in its report card, earning a “C” grade.

“We found that in many areas of Washington’s infrastructure there are vital needs that are going unmet,” said Laura Ruppert, Director of the Seattle Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. “We’ve put off these important investments for too long and we need to take action now to bring our infrastructure back up to where it needs for improved safety and efficiency.”

The Repair Washington report identifies needed investments that would have the greatest impact on job creation, while also protecting communities from the impacts of climate change. Including in the report were the number of direct jobs from impacted sectors—like construction laborers, equipment operators, and maintenance workers—as well as the number of indirect jobs from industries that service those sectors and the supply chain. In addition, the report estimated the number of induced jobs supported as the workers buy goods and services, including increased demand for retail, housing, and financial services.

“The state of the systems we rely on every day to provide power, to move people and goods efficiently, to ensure clean and safe drinking water, and to communicate with each other are bad and getting worse each day,” said David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “But, this challenge is also an opportunity. Investing now will put people to work rebuilding pipes, roads, bridges, transit, and energy transmission systems, while making our infrastructure systems more efficient—reducing energy and water waste and the carbon pollution that drives climate change.”

Repairing and updating inefficient infrastructure reduces waste and carbon pollution driving climate change. For example, there are an estimated 240,000 water main breaks a year. Replacing that leaked water requires energy to pump even more water, resulting in not just water waste, but energy waste as well. A Chicago State University study showed that by reducing the amount of water leaked annually in the U.S. by only 5 percent would result in saving enough energy to power 31,000 homes for a year and cut 225,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

“We can repair and improve our infrastructure, reduce fossil fuel dependence, deliver real climate solutions, and create a stronger foundation for good jobs and sustainable prosperity. This report points the way forward,” said Kathleen Ridihalgh, Senior Regional Organizing Manager for Sierra Club.

The release is part of the BlueGreen Alliance’s Repair America campaign. Repair America is an effort fix the basic systems people rely on every day—for power, water, to communicate with each other, and to get people and goods from place to place—to create family-sustaining jobs, help address climate change, and ensure our communities are safer and healthier.

“Union members play a vital role in our nation’s infrastructure systems and domestic manufacturing,” said Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO. ”We also have a commitment to responding to the threat of climate change. Solutions like this one will protect our environment and our communities, and, if we do it right, will create good jobs and economic growth in manufacturing and across all sectors of the economy.”