Ms. HAHN. Mr. Speaker, as every American knows, we have a jobs crisis in this country. While unemployment has improved within the past year, it is still strangling our economy. Approximately 40 percent of jobless Americans--who lost their jobs through no fault of their own--have been out of work for six months or longer, and the longer they wait, the harder it is for them to find jobs. The fact of the matter is that we will not see robust economic growth again until we put Americans back to work.
We also have an infrastructure crisis. According to Transportation for America, there are 69,223 bridges that have been classified as ``structurally deficient'' by the Federal Highway Administration. Leaving these bridges in their current state of disrepair poses a grave threat not only to our safety, but also to our economy. As the President noted last year, ``Our aging transportation infrastructure costs American businesses and families about $130 billion a year ..... and if we don't act now, it could cost America hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of jobs by the end of the decade.'' Additionally, studies have shown that our crumbling infrastructure threatens our competitive edge in the world economy. As the Washington Post reported last summer, if nothing is done to improve our infrastructure, ``U.S. businesses would pay an added $430 billion in transportation costs, household incomes would fall by more than $7,000, and U.S. exports will fall by $28 billion.'' Mr. Speaker, we can't afford to wait until the end of the decade; we need action now.
Alleviating both of these crises is not a mutually exclusive endeavor. That's why I've introduced the ``Bridge to Jobs Act,'' a much-needed ``win-win'' for the American economy and public safety. The act provides states with grants to put Americans back to work by repairing crumbling bridges. Not only will this legislation put Americans back to work and bolster our ailing economy, it will also ensure the safety of the millions who use these bridges each and every day. I urge my colleagues to support this crucial investment in our workforce, our economy, and our safety.