One of my all time favourite albums was Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”. I listened to it non-stop one summer every day as I worked flipping burgers in Alberta as a newly minted MBA.
Workin’ on the Highway was a song looking at the life of a highway construction worker.
The New Brunswick Road Builders & Heavy Construction Association issued a press release yesterday entitled “Skilled road and construction workers fleeing province” which details the economic impact of the reduction of government spending on related projects in the name of austerity.
It’s a powerful statement and does show the economic impact of highway construction. If you are in need of high paying jobs and visible stimulus – road building is the way to go.
In 2011, construction GDP in New Brunswick declined by over 7 percent and this was a major reason why overall GDP grew by only 0.1 percent.
Followers of this blog will know that I think we spend too much in this area. New Brunswick has more kms of four-lane highway than any other province (adjusted for population size) and spends more per capita on roads each year than just about everywhere else. In fact, we spend the most on asphalt and the least on universities.
But this is a stark reminder of the impact of austerity and the need to build an economy (or rebuild in the words of the government) that is not as reliant on public sector spending. Public sector spending growth each year has outpaced private sector growth by 2 to 3 times since the late 1990s.