While the United States’ political system may currently be operating in a hyper partisan climate, conventional wisdom states that there’s one area even the most divided politicians can agree on – infrastructure. Yet, in recent years, much needed improvements to the nation’s rapidly declining roads, bridges, transportation and other essential resources have been stalled alongside other more hot-button issues.

However, this summer has provided reason for optimism among those invested in engineering and construction projects at a national level. In early August, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill following months of heated negotiations. While there are still challenges facing the agreement before it’s signed into law, this legislation may provide massive opportunities for employers and job seekers alike. 

As reported by Engineering News-Record, reactions from the construction industry came swiftly, including this statement Linda Bauer Darr, the Present and CEO of the American Council of Engineering Companies, who called it, “a huge step forward for the country,” and went onto remark that, “America’s engineering industry is ready to get to work designing the infrastructure of the future.”

What’s in the current infrastructure bill?

According to CNN, the bill includes $550 billion in new federal investments over five years. While falling short of the initial $2.25 trillion proposal outlined by the White House earlier this spring, the current deal calls for these funds to be applied to critical initiatives affecting the engineering and construction industries, including: 

  • Highways, bridges and major transportation projects
  • Public transit, including modernized rail and bus lines
  • Broadband internet 
  • Airports, ports and waterways 
  • Electric vehicles 
  • Power and water systems
  • Environmental remediation programs 

While the bill may go further in spending than some may have wanted and lack in areas of focus critical to others, the current deal is poised to open up jobs in an industry in need of rejuvenation following years of setbacks and the effects of COVID-19 restrictions. 

What does this legislation mean for the Engineering and Construction industries? 

In short, the long term economic effects of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act are still up for debate. While the fact sheet provided by the Biden administration states that, in addition to the President’s “Build Back Better” agenda, these investments could add around 2 million jobs per year over the course of a decade, job creation estimates vary among experts. Analysis from Moody’s Analytics paints a more modest picture, with the deal creating 650,000 jobs. However, the same report expects the average pay for these jobs to reach around $70,000 a year. At a time when millions of Americans are resigning from their jobs to take on new opportunities, an influx of well-paying positions in engineering and construction could be the answer for struggling companies and job seekers alike. 

What’s next?

As American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) President and CEO Dave Bauer declared in a statement, “The Senate vote is a much-needed step, but not the finish line.” After years of promised action on infrastructure, the United States is close to a commitment to stable, long-term investment in projects that could drive a decade of engineering and construction hiring. The question remains: Will we see these aspirations finally become a reality? 

Do you have questions on what the latest infrastructure legislation means for your workforce? Connect with Medix Engineering + Construction for expert insights and the talent you need to lead and deliver constriction, environmental and engineering projects.