U.S. infrastructure quality ranks only 19th in the world

Infrastructure spending held back by struggling state, local governments

The quality of infrastructure in the U.S. ranks just 19th in the world, trailing countries such as Oman, Portugal, and Spain, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. Financially strapped state and local governments are responsible for the poor showing.

The American Society for Civil Engineers (ASCE)gave the U.S. a D+ in its annual Infrastructure Report Card, saying the country needs to invest $3.6 trillion by 2020 to upgrade our infrastructure. Infrastructure spending continues to lag, even while the economy adds jobs, GDP continues to grow, and home sales rebound following the recession.

States, counties, and cities, which are primarily responsible for funding schools, roads, waste disposal facilities, and other community assets, are focused on paying down debt and don’t have the money for a needed infrastructure spending spree. In the last few years, the bond markets have issued few notes for new capital projects despite historically low interest rates, according to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. Much of the current municipal bond issuance appears to be refinancing.

In addition, with the federal government’s Highway Trust Fund expected to run out of money in August unless Congress replenishes it, many state transportation projects are in limbo.


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