Who gets to work

25 January 2017

Voters in the US, particularly rural, uneducated voters, have said their support for president elect Donald Trump comes not from a place of hate, misogyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, racism, nor a disdain of liberal elitism. Their support is for his plan to bring manufacturing back to US soil, to create more jobs through lifting moratoriums on pipelines and natural resource extraction projects, and by building infrastructure—be it roads, wastewater or the notorious wall with Mexico.

Allowing that a republican-led congress supports the president elect’s USD 1tr infrastructure plan and it is implemented—which leadership has immediately stated it won’t—infrastructure, construction and manufacturing jobs are not going to revive the rural US. Over the next 10 years the type of jobs people claim they wanted back by voting for Trump will be predominately in urban areas or outer-ring suburbs; they’ll be in or near port cities.

The Trump presidency is laced with uncertainty. There are billions of dollars in construction work in the Northeast and Midwest to reduce combined sewer overflows. Particularly in Ohio and Indiana, cities of all sizes have mandates with the EPA—one of many institutions that newly-elected leaders have said they want to dismantle. That’s not to say mandates are the only driving force in these cities’ decisions to build new tunnels. Many are enthusiastically embracing the opportunity to clean up local waterways and improve quality of life. They may have pursued their projects regardless of federal intervention.

Undoing restrictions on fracking could improve job growth and boost the economy in various regions of the US. And Trump’s drive to return more power to states could also increase local control over whether or not to implement more controversial fracking and mining projects.

Democrat leadership, including the current president and presidential nominee Hilary Clinton, has called for party members, supporters and everyone in the nation to unite and move forward. If the president elect is serious about his USD 1tr infrastructure plan, all democrats need to heed that call and reach out to the White House to make it happen. Come January, partisan politics should not hinder potential job growth under the new presidency.

At the very least, November 8 made it certain that Los Angeles and Seattle will provide opportunities for the construction, engineering and tunnelling industries for the next few decades. The US is a divided nation and it’s a confusing transition for many. In times of stress and uncertainty one of the best distractions is simply to get to work