A Broadband Stimulus Plan

As Barack Obama heads toward the Oval Office, demand is collapsing across most of the economy, and the job market is following. Manufacturers and stores are laying off workers as consumers cut back. Meanwhile, construction jobs are in the doldrums as fewer homes and offices are built.

This shortfall in communications jobs, however, need not be permanent. A new report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, to be released on Jan. 7, suggests that government fiscal stimulus, directed toward improving the broadband infrastructure, can go a long way toward boosting communications-related jobs. According to the report from the ITIF, a nonpartisan think tank, "a stimulus package that spurs or supports $10 billion of investment in one year in broadband networks will support approximately 510,000 new U.S. jobs for a year." But there's another factor holding back job creation in communications. Remember that the auto industry had its infrastructure—highways and streets—built and maintained by the government. Consider this: In 1965, as the interstate highway building boom was winding down, government at all levels spent roughly $12 billion on highway and street construction and maintenance, paid for in large part by gas taxes and other motor vehicle fees. The total wholesale value of new cars, trucks, and buses the same year was only about $22 billion.

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