As the fight for health care and tax reform remain at a standstill, President Trump has shifted his focus this week to infrastructure. A seemingly bipartisan issue, Trump faces significant resistance from both Democrats and Republicans on the finer details of his proposal, leaving many to question whether Trump has bitten off more than he can chew. However, if he can secure a victory on infrastructure, it won’t only help him in his other policy battles — it will be a huge victory for millennials.
By 2020, millennials will comprise half of the workforce, and by 2025, this number will be at 75 percent. These workers will depend on reliable roads, airports, and public transportation to do their jobs. Currently, the difference between our nation’s investment needs and governments’ ability to fund construction and repair of critical public assets – is around $200 billion a year. This has led to a crumbling infrastructure that could have devastating consequences for the economy.
Roads cost more to repair the longer they are left untouched, and while millennials are considered more “environmentally-friendly” than previous generations, they still like to drive. J.D. Power & Associates reported that millennials boosted their share of the new car market from 18% in 2010 to 28% in the first quarter of 2015. Better roads alone would mean fewer headaches for the millennial worker.
While the investment into infrastructure would create several thousand jobs in the short term, the long-term impact is a high-functioning tourism economy. Tourism is a huge job creator: in 2016, 1 out of 9 U.S. jobs depended on travel and tourism. Many of these jobs are the entry-level positions that give millennials a foot in the door, providing the skills and education they need for successful careers. Most importantly, tourism creates American jobs that cannot be outsourced, falling in line with this administration’s “America First” mantra.
Infrastructure improvements are key to a thriving tourism industry. Faster routes mean more tourists and more time for dining, shopping and other experiences that support this industry. It also means tourists are more likely to return for another visit.
In addition, Trump’s push to privatize the nation’s air traffic control would finally take us out of the Dark Ages and into the 21st century. As Trump noted in his remarks Monday, his privatization plan will “get you where you need to go more quickly, more reliably, more affordably and yes … on time.” The switch to GPS alone will speed up transportation time by providing more direct routes — a no-brainer. Any improvement would be welcomed by the millennial traveler, who will soon dominate the tourism economy.
The last few administrations have kicked the can with infrastructure improvements. Trump has the opportunity to buck that trend and keep the American Dream alive and well for millennials.