Federal highway grants to states appear to boost economic activity in the short and medium term. The short-term effects appear to be due largely to increases in aggregate demand. Medium-term effects apparently reflect the increased productive capacity brought by improved roads. Overall, each dollar of federal highway grants received by a state raises that state’s annual economic output by at least two dollars, a relatively large multiplier.
Increasing government spending during periods of economic weakness to offset slower private-sector spending has long been an important policy tool. In particular, during the recent recession and slow recovery, federal officials put in place fiscal measures, including increased government spending, to boost economic growth and lower unemployment. One form of government spending that has received a lot of attention is public investment in infrastructure projects. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) allocated $40 billion to the Department of Transportation for spending on the nation’s roads and other public infrastructure. Such public infrastructure investment harks back to the Great Depression, when programs such as the Works Progress Administration and the Tennessee Valley Authority were inaugurated.
One criticism of public infrastructure programs is that they take a long time to put in place and therefore are unlikely to be effective quickly enough to alleviate economic downturns. The fact is, though, that surprisingly little empirical information is available about the effect of public infrastructure investment on economic activity over the short and medium term.
This Economic Letter examines new research (Leduc and Wilson, forthcoming) on the dynamic effects of public investment in roads and highways on gross state product (GSP), the total economic output of a state. This research focuses on investment in roads and highways in part because it is the largest component of public infrastructure in the United States. Moreover, the procedures by which federal highway grants are distributed to states help us identify more precisely how transportation spending affects economic activity.
We find that unanticipated increases in highway spending have positive but temporary effects on GSP, both in the short and medium run. The short-run effect is consistent with a traditional Keynesian channel in which output increases because of a rise in aggregate demand, combined with slow-to-adjust prices. In contrast, the positive response of GSP over the medium run is in line with a supply-side effect due to an increase in the economy’s productive capacity.
We also assess how much bang each additional buck of highway spending creates by calculating the multiplier, that is, the magnitude of the effect of each dollar of infrastructure spending on economic activity. We find that the multiplier is at least two. In other words, for each dollar of federal highway grants received by a state, that state’s GSP rises by at least two dollars…
The extensive Job Gap as tremendous impact. According to the 2012 of the ILO report on Global Employment Trends(GET), the world facesa Global Job Gap of 600 million jobs. The Brookings’ Hamilton Project “updates America’s job gap, the number of jobs that the U.S. economy needs to create in order to return to pre-recession employment levels while absorbing the 125,000 … Continue reading »
U.S. jobs growth may have picked up earlier this year, offering the millions of unemployed hope that better days are ahead. But once again, the government’s monthly unemployment report comes with disappointing news. In April, the nation’s employers created 115,000 positions, after adding 154,000 in March, the Labor Department reported Friday. This was less than … Continue reading »
The labor market has added nearly 5 million jobs since the post-Great Recession low in Feb. 2010. Because of the historic job loss of the Great Recession, however, the labor market still has 3.8 million fewer jobs than it had before the recession began in Dec. 2007. Furthermore, because the potential labor force grows as … Continue reading »
Faced with a jobs crisis, policymakers the world over are digging deep into their policy toolkits to generate more employment. A recent study by the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department argues that reforms of tax and expenditure policies offer great promise in helping countries confront the jobs crisis, including in the short term. The study argues … Continue reading »
Job Gap is extending and has entered a new, more structural phase as austerity prevails says ILO who calls for a Global Job Pact
The World of Work Report 2012 provides a comprehensive analysis of recent labour market and social trends, assesses risks of social unrest and presents employment projections for the next five years. The report emphasizes that while employment has begun to recover slowly, job quality is deteriorating and there is a growing sense of unfairness. Moreover, … Continue reading »
The neglect of credit and debt in economic theory continues to produce muddled policy thinking. Take the tendency to protect banks lock, stock and barrel, at huge costs. The mantra is that if we let banks go bankrupt, that will ruin the economy. This is a nifty inversion of the truth: it is precisely the … Continue reading »
Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Janet Yellen backed a proposal to link the Fed’s zero interest-rate policy to progress toward meeting its goals for inflation and employment rather than to a calendar date. “The Committee might eliminate the calendar date entirely and replace it with guidance on the economic conditions that would need to prevail before … Continue reading »
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart said forceful central bank policies will remain needed to spur job growth even if Congress averts sudden tax increases and spending cuts at the end of the year. “I expect that continued aggressive use of balance sheet monetary tools will be appropriate and justified by economic conditions … Continue reading »
Fiscal policy, at both the federal and state and local levels: headwinds for unemployment reduction says Bernanke
The accommodative monetary policies I have reviewed today, both traditional and nontraditional, have provided important support to the economic recovery while helping to maintain price stability… Notwithstanding these positive signs, the economic situation is obviously far from satisfactory… Further, the rate of improvement in the labor market has been painfully slow. I have noted on …Continue reading »
In discussions about the Fed actions, it occurred to me that many of the explanations that link the Fed’s moves to stronger job growth leave out a number of steps in the middle. It’s of course not the case that the Fed buys MBS or announces they’ll keep rates low and jobs that weren’t there …Continue reading »
‘Three years after our worst recession since the Great Depression officially ended, the U.S. economy is still very weak’ writes Mark Weisbrot. The people most hurt by this weakness are the unemployed and the poor, and of course the two problems are related. We have about 23 million people who are unemployed, involuntarily working part-time, or have … Continue reading »
One of the main policies to reduce long-term unemployment is an active labor market policy. The OECD publishes each year data on Government investments in labor market programs like training and wage subsidies.
Gemany and the Scandinavian countries are champions of active labor market policies. This is well known. But, less known is the fact that the US are not. US investment in active labor market programs before the Great recession wasbelow the OECD average, nearly 4 times lower: 0.13% of GDP vs 0.48%.
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Fed up with the anemic pace of hiring, the Federal Reserve promised Thursday that it would do whatever it takes to reduce unemployment. The Fed stepped up its efforts to boost economic growth, opting for a … http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fed-will-do-whatever-it-takes-to-get-hiring-going-2012-09-13