State and local budgets are slowly beginning to improve from the worst of the recession. But their spending on infrastructure projects — schools, sewers and police stations — is still a long way from recovery. According to the Commerce Department, state and local spending on public construction fell to $242.6 billion in May. That's the lowest figure in nearly seven years, notes Governing by the Numbers: "Just two years ago, government funds accounted for 39 percent of all construction spending. That share has now dropped to less than one-third."
The 2009 stimulus provided a boost to certain infrastructure projects, including highway and bridge construction and clean water projects. But it was a temporary increase that ultimately didn't solve the deep fiscal problems that state and local governments have been facing. Budget cuts hit some types of spending much harder than others. Spending on education construction — for example, new schools — took an especially big hit, Governing by the Numbers notes, down 29 percent since 2009:
Another target has been spending on sewage and waste disposal projects, where construction spending has also been steadily falling:
One area, however, has been much more recession proof: After taking a hit in 2010, spending on health care infrastructure has bounced back considerably. That shouldn't be a surprise, as health-care spending and employment have continued to grow in spite of the rest of the economy.