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Report: Jobs at risk due to congestion in key areas

Posted on December 6, 2013

Companies located in the nation’s most productive regions need additional public transportation to reach their full employment potential, according to findings in a study released today by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

The report, “The Role of Transit in Support of High Growth Business Clusters in the U.S.,” conducted by the Economic Development Research Corp. and commissioned by APTA, projects that 480,000 new jobs representing $32 billion per year in income will be at risk due to congestion by 2040.

The study was released at a U.S. Capitol Hill briefing sponsored by the Congressional Public Transportation Caucus.

“Only with robust, reliable and safe public transportation systems can we begin to unlock the country’s true economic potential,” said U.S. Representative Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and co-chair of the Public Transportation Caucus. “As our economy continues to evolve in the 21st century, it is imperative that we provide employers and workers with more options to connect people to jobs. Improving public transportation is a critical part of meeting this goal.”

APTA President/CEO Michael Melaniphy stated, “Public transportation provides the access to enable high-tech and high-growth industries to cluster in areas that can attract the talent they need, while avoiding the consequences of constrained growth. Public transportation investment is a key ingredient in helping these firms enhance their productivity and compete on a global stage.”

Glen Weisbrod, president of the Economic Development Research Corp. and author of the report, noted that the American economy is driven by technology-oriented and high-growth business sectors that rely on clustering in urban locations, where these businesses can best access R&D centers, information sharing, and a large, skilled workforce.

The study examines the key high-growth and high-tech business clusters in the U.S. and analyzes the impact transportation access constraints have on eight areas across the nation.

According to the report, there is a fundamental change in the U.S. economy. In the future, a disproportionate number of American jobs will be in knowledge-based industries that are most successful when they locate near one another. As a result, these firms have specific location requirements and increasingly depend upon a workforce that wants a number of mobility options. Therefore, to optimize employment opportunity, public transportation investment will be a necessary ingredient.

The eight study areas reaffirm earlier research findings that auto congestion can negatively affect the growth and productivity of densely developed areas by increasing travel times and potentially erase the economic benefits that would otherwise be available from concentrated employment centers.

The study cites local government officials around the nation that note that the addition of highway lane miles is a constraint because of the lack of land mass in these high-growth areas.

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