WASHINGTON, DC: US President-elect Barack Obama has promised to invest in infrastructure on a scale not seen since the 1950s, when the US highway system was established. He used his weekly address to outline that the spending would be part of his plan to create at least 2.5m new jobs in the ailing US economy.
He also spoke of the need for expanded access to high-speed internet and the modernization of school buildings. Unemployment rose by more than 500,000 during November, figures have shown. That was the biggest monthly rise in job cuts since 1974, and it drove up the jobless rate to a 15-year high of 6.7%, up from 6.5% in October.
The figures came less than a week after the National Bureau for Economic Research said the US economy had been in recession since late 2007. Mr. Obama, who takes office on 20 January, has previously said that his incoming team will be tasked with generating 2.5m new jobs by 2011.
On Saturday, speaking in his weekly address, Mr. Obama outlined how most of that employment might be created.
â€œWe will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s,â€ he said.
â€œWeâ€™ll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways, and weâ€™ll set a simple rule – use it or lose it. If a state doesnâ€™t act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, theyâ€™ll lose the money.â€
The president-elect said that broadband internet connections in the US should be available to schoolchildren and hospitals.
â€œIn the country that invented the internet, every child should have the chance to get online and… thatâ€™s how weâ€™ll strengthen Americaâ€™s competitiveness in the world,â€ he said.
School buildings, he continued, would be modernized and upgraded to make them energy-efficient. The new administration, he added, would launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs.
â€œOur government now pays the highest energy bill in the world – we need to change that,â€ he said.