The Obama transportation component of the stimulus program is coming to an end. The last projects in Michigan have been sent out for bid and will be under construction soon. There have been many articles written and analysis done to show that the influx of these dollars has either stimulated the economy or not. Or maybe it did at first, but not now. Maybe the funding saved jobs, but didn’t create any new ones. Maybe all of these scenarios are correct – it just depends in which city or state you live!
Well, let’s look at an industry and the impact that fewer transportation dollars have had on its growth over the past 10 years. I recently had the pleasure of having a cup of coffee with leaders in the asphalt industry here in Michigan. They provided me with some very interesting…and depressing information.
Total asphalt plant produced tons in Michigan has decreased by 49 percent from 1999 to 2009 – from 23 million tons down to 11.5 million tons. The number of working asphalt plants has also decreased from 100 down to 77 over this 10-year period.
Almost 3,000 jobs have been lost during this time, including crew workers, asphalt haulers, aggregate production workers, aggregate haulers to asphalt plants, and contractor management to support the added workers.
So much for the stimulus program helping this industry. In fact, now that the stimulus funding is over and transportation funding continues to decrease, it is hard to imagine these numbers going up anytime soon.