Down the Infrastructure Rabbit Hole. A twitter thread on construction capacity.
The infrastructure sector is only 25% of all construction spending, with the largest share being the Power market. Power accounts for 33% of all infrastructure spending. Highway represents 30% and Transportation about 15%. However, Power is 80% private, Transportation 30% private.
Only 60% of all Infrastructure spending is publicly funded. Highway is about half of all publicly funded Infrastructure construction. That public subset of work in the last 25 years has grown by $20 billion/year only once and averages growth of less than $10 billion/year.
Most public work is Infrastructure or public works projects, about 60%, but some public work is nonresidential buildings, about 40%. Public Safety is 100% public. Educational projects are 80% public. Amusement/Recreation Facilities (i.e.’ Convention Centers, Stadiums) is 50% public. Healthcare is 20% public.
The two largest markets contributing to public spending are Highway/Bridge (32%) and Educational (26%), together accounting for nearly 60% of all public construction spending. At #3, Transportation is only about 10% of public spending.
Sewage/Waste Water and Water Supply add up to another 10% of the market. All other markets combined, Conservation and all other various nonresidential buildings, none more than 4% of the total, account for less than 20% of public spending.
It is rare that Nonbuilding Public Infrastructure construction spending increases by more than $10 billion in a year. Once, only once, it increased by an average of $10 billion/year for three years. Excluding recession, average annual growth is $4 billion/year.
It is rare for Total All Public Infrastructure to increase by $20 billion in a year. It has done so only ever twice. Excluding the two worst recession years, the average annual growth since 2001 is $7 billion/year.
For every $10 billion a year in added infrastructure spending, that also means adding about 40,000 to 50,000 new construction jobs per year.
Infrastructure construction spending is near all-time highs and has been for the last several years. Public spending is 10% ($30bil) below all-time highs, the largest deficits coming from Educational, Sewage/Waste Water and Water Supply.
Either an infrastructure spending plan is used to create new work or it becomes a funding source to pay for work already planned, in which case it does not increase spending or jobs projections.
As proposed, states and municipalities would be required to come up with 80% of the funding for any new infrastructure project to qualify for 20% of funding from the federal government, potentially shifting the bond funding tax burden to states.
Alternatively, states could solicit private partnership funding, in which case what would normally be considered public assets could become privately controlled assets. This raises a whole new list of issues for discussion, not engaged here.
Infrastructure currently has the highest amount of work in backlog in history. Public work is at its 2nd highest starting backlog only to 2008. Starting backlog accounts for 80% of spending in the current year and 60% of spending in the following year.
Current levels of backlog and predicted new starts gives a projection that Public Nonbuilding Infrastructure spending will reach an all-time high in 2018 and again in 2019.
Total All Public Infrastructure in 2018 also reaches an all-time current$ spending high. However, in constant$, inflation adjusted, volume of work is still well below previous peak.
The non-building infrastructure construction sector does not have the capacity to increase spending over and above existing planned (booked and projected new starts) work by another $10 billion/year, nor does it have the capacity to add an additional 40,000 jobs per year.
Total All Public Infrastructure construction, including public works and Nonresidential public buildings, already has a growth projection near historic capacity. It cannot double that volume by another $10-$20 billion/year and add an additional 40,000 – 80,000 jobs per year.
Below is the timeline of my articles series on Infrastructure. Some of the numbers have changed slightly over the past year, but not enough to change the premise of the articles.