Paris Agreement Withdrawal, While Needed, Is Not a Growth Plan

June 5, 2017

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt on "Fox News Sunday," talking about President Trump's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, said that the U.S. economy had added 50,000 jobs in coal/oil/gas since January, including 7,000 in May. Pruitt said it is necessary that all power-source industries be stimulated, and that there must be fossil fuel reserve stocks available at power plants in case of interruptions to the grid from accidental or strategic (terrorist) causes.

Fossil fuel industry employment has grown since January with a higher oil price; but the overall U.S. employment picture has remained as stagnant as in Obama's no-growth last year. Manufacturing employment has dropped, construction employment is flat for a year. The U.S. economy's year-to-year job growth is now below 2.1 million, compared to 2.8 million at the start of 2016. More than 600,000 Americans were reported leaving the labor force in May.

The Association of General Contractors (AGC), which is calling for a dramatic new national infrastructure investment program, reported June 2 that both manufacturing construction and public construction are falling. "Manufacturing construction declined 1.9% for the month [of May] and 9.4% year-to-date.... Public construction spending tumbled 3.7% from the prior month and 5.25 for the first five months of 2017. The biggest public segment — highway and street construction — also dropped 3.7% for the month and decreased 3.2% year-to-date. Among other major public infrastructure categories, spending on transportation facilities such as transit and airport construction declined 4.6% year-to-date; spending on sewage and waste disposal plummeted 23.55 and on water supply, 10.9%.

"Association officials urged Congress and the Trump administration to identify new, long-term and sustainable ways to pay to improve and expand aging public infrastructure. They said a budget proposal released last week by the administration should start a debate about the best way to fund and finance new public works projects." That comment came from Stephen E. Sandherr, the AGC's CEO.