Caution: Job Loss Ahead
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Posted by: Nancy Brown
Today orange road construction barrels lined sidewalks leading to the Capitol, and a large backhoe-loader overshadowed a VW Beetle to remind lawmakers that Michigan is losing 12,255 jobs due to a drop in state transportation funding.
The VW Beetle symbolized the 3,010 automotive, banking and pharmaceutical job losses that have made headline news this year.
“Michigan’s 12,255 job losses due to a lack of adequate transportation funding should be headline news,” said Mike Nystrom, vice-president of government and public relations for the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA) and co-chair of Michigan’s Transportation Team (MTT). “For anyone who cares about turning Michigan’s economy around, increased transportation funding needs to be a top priority.”
As gas tax revenues in Michigan continue to decline, Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) five-year highway program is forecasting a 40 percent drop in road funding for FY 07-09. A report by the University of Michigan estimates that Michigan will lose 12, 255 jobs in many sectors of the economy by 2009 as a result of these cuts. The jobs are being lost not only in construction, but also in manufacturing, professional services and business services, according to the report.
“Michigan's transportation infrastructure is critical to our state's economic growth,” said Rich Studley, executive vice president of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of MTT. “Our residents cannot afford to lose more jobs, and our roads cannot sustain a loss in funding.”
This job loss could not come at a worse time — Michigan’s economy is struggling and roads and bridges are literally crumbling. As of today, there are more than 3,000 structurally deficient or functionally obsolete bridges. And Michigan’s roads consistently rank near the bottom nationally.
“Now more than ever, Michigan needs to fix our roads and fix our economy by maintaining the good-paying jobs that we already have,” said Dennis Gillow, director of infrastructure for the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 324. “Despite this fact, Michigan is scheduled to receive even less money for infrastructure maintenance and improvements in the coming years. So our roads will continue to deteriorate and our jobs will continue to go south."
MITA represents a broad spectrum of underground and highway construction companies and suppliers who help build a better Michigan infrastructure from the bottom up. They have been a leading voice for securing adequate transportation funding at the federal and state levels.