Press Releases | Jobs and Unemployment

News from EPI A plan to put hundreds of thousands of people back to work now: “FAST!”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Thursday, August 11, 2011
Sean O’Donnell, 21st Century School Fund, (202) 745-3745, ext. 13, so’
Phoebe Silag, Economic Policy Institute, (202) 775-8810,

Fix America’s Schools Today

A national infrastructure project designed to improve public schools and facilities would benefit students and teachers and put hundreds of thousands of people back to work.  In a new proposal released today, Mary Filardo of the 21st Century School Fund, Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, and Ross Eisenbrey of the Economic Policy Institute propose the enactment of a new program, Fix America’s Schools Today, or FAST!, designed to fund the maintenance and repair of public schools in the United States.

The current backlogs of school maintenance and repair projects are worth between $270 billion and $500 billion—at a time when state and local governments and school districts are facing unprecedented budget crunches.  At the same time, the U.S. is facing an unemployment crisis; within the construction industry alone, 1.5 million workers are unemployed.  Maintenance and repair of school buildings and facilities would provide students with an educational environment both safer and more conducive to learning and enable school districts to attract and retain quality teachers while simultaneously enabling hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers to find good-quality jobs in their communities.

“A program devoted to maintaining and improving public schools would provide students with healthy, safe, modern and environmentally-sustainable educational facilities, and it would lower school districts’ operating costs,” said Filardo.  “The federal government has a major opportunity right now to both cut down on the backlog of infrastructure projects and reduce unemployment nationwide.”

Creating Jobs Through FAST!, a Proposed New Infrastructure Program to Repair America’s Public Schools explains that FAST! complies with PAYGO and would not require the government to borrow more money.