By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA
A new Harvard Business School report describes America’s failure to invest in transportation infrastructure as a major contributing factor to its “growing weakness” in global economic competitiveness.
Public investment in transportation has declined to 1.6 percent of GDP today from 2.2 percent in the 1960s, according to “Problems Unsolved and a Nation Divided: The State of U.S. Competitiveness 2016.”
“The greatest impact of lower investments in infrastructure is on everyday Americans, who rely on public transport, have limited transportation options, and suffer from long commutes and resulting high costs of living,” the report says.
The report by several Harvard professors directs much of the blame on the nation’s dysfunctional political system, including this year’s presidential candidates, but also takes aim at the business community.
“Our failure to make progress reflects an unrealistic and ineffective national discourse on the reality of the challenges facing the U.S. economy and the steps needed to restore shared prosperity. Business has too often failed to play its part in recent decades, and a flawed U.S. political system has led to an absence of progress in government, especially in Washington.”
In addition to increasing investment in transportation and other key infrastructure, the report recommends several other high-priority measures to improve global competitiveness. These included reducing the world’s-highest 39 percent corporate tax, easing immigration for high-skilled workers, and lowering trade barriers.
On a positive note, the report notes some state and local elected officials and business leaders have partnered to find regional solutions to transportation, education and other problems.