Trump’s Trillion Dollar Infrastructure Investment Could Create 11 Million Jobs, According to Georgetown University Research

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The majority of new infrastructure jobs would require high school and short-term training

We don’t want an infrastructure jobs boom to be a false dawn for male high school graduates who have already been left behind by recent economic change.

New analysis from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (Georgetown Center) finds that President-elect Trump’s 10-year $1 trillion infrastructure proposal could create 11 million jobs, restoring the job growth trajectory derailed by the Great Recession, but also risks overheating the economy.    

It is not surprising that $1 trillion in spending on infrastructure is certain to have positive employment effects in keeping with standard Keynesian theory. However, the additional spending, in combination with tax cuts and other economic policy shifts proposed by the President-elect, could generate inflation and set the stage for further interest rate hikes.

President-elect Trump’s proposal would at least temporarily revive the blue-collar economy, which has been in decline since the 1970s. High school-educated workers, especially men, could once again attain good jobs that pay as much as 20 percent more than jobs held by similarly-educated workers in other sectors.

  • A high school dropout working in infrastructure makes $5,000 more than high school dropouts in other professions.
  • A high school graduate in infrastructure makes as much as workers in other professions with some college education but no degree.
  • Workers with some college credits in infrastructure make more than the average worker with an associate degree in other professions.

The Georgetown Center report also finds that the boom in infrastructure jobs will be temporary for many workers, especially men, since the vast majority (92 percent) of newly-created infrastructure jobs would be for men.

“We don’t want an infrastructure jobs boom to be a false dawn for male high school graduates who have already been left behind by recent economic change,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown Center.

Though some opportunity will remain for maintenance operations, the majority of infrastructure jobs will decline when the money runs out.

“The longer term challenge will be the transferability of the skills learned in infrastructure jobs to careers available when the infrastructure boom is over, especially for those with high school or less,” said Nicole Smith, chief economist at the Georgetown Center.

The report finds that the infrastructure jobs will provide valuable work experience, but presents both training and retraining challenges.

  • More than half (55 percent) of new infrastructure jobs would go to high school graduates and high school dropouts, requiring a minimum (up to six months) of additional training.
  • Almost a quarter of infrastructure jobs will go to people with certificates or some college but no degree.
  • More than a fifth (21 percent) of infrastructure jobs would go to people with two-year, four-year, or graduate degrees.    

Access the full report, Trump’s Infrastructure Proposal Could Create 11 Million Jobs,
at cew.georgetown.edu/TrumpInfrastructure.

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The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce is an independent, nonprofit research and policy institute that studies the link between individual goals, education and training curricula, and career pathways. The Georgetown Center is affiliated with the Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy. For more information, visit: cew.georgetown.edu. Follow us on Twitter @GeorgetownCEW, on Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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Hilary Strahota
Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce
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