New in­fra­struc­ture projects would re­duce un­em­ploy­ment.

The Washington Post Sunday - - OUTLOOK -

In his in­au­gu­ral ad­dress, Trump vowed to “build new roads, and high­ways, and bridges, and air­ports, and tun­nels, and rail­ways all across our won­der­ful na­tion” and ex­plained that we will “get our peo­ple off of wel­fare and back to work re­build­ing our coun­try with Amer­i­can hands and Amer­i­can la­bor.” This is a fa­mil­iar theme. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said es­sen­tially the same thing dur­ing his time in of­fice.

While it is cer­tainly true that more projects would mean more de­mand for man-hours of work, Amer­i­cans are mostly al­ready work­ing, with the un­em­ploy­ment rate of roughly 4 per­cent at its low­est point in years. And while there is re­gional vari­a­tion, the build­ing trades are get­ting lots of work over­all. It isn’t clear that there would even be enough skilled Amer­i­can la­bor to un­der­take any mas­sive in­fra­struc­ture pro­gram with­out can­ni­bal­iz­ing ex­ist­ing projects and driv­ing up the price of con­struc­tion by pri­vate en­ter­prise, thus re­duc­ing in­cen­tives to cre­ate new jobs.

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