Brookings report says OKC is in top third of U.S. cities for share of infrastructure workers

New study shows more than 10 percent of U.S. workers are engaged in building, maintaining or using infrastructure.
FROM STAFF REPORTS Modified: May 9, 2014 at 2:00 pm •  Published: May 8, 2014
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Oklahoma City ranks 30th among the nation’s largest cities in the share of workers employed in building and maintaining infrastructure, according to a report issued Friday by the Brookings Institution.

In the Oklahoma City area, 11.5 percent of workers are employed in infrastructure, the report from Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program said. Tulsa ranked 31st in the share of infrastructure employees among its total workforce.

The total of 64,160 infrastructure employees ranks Oklahoma City 43rd among the 100 largest U.S. metro areas, the report said. Tulsa, with 45,790 infrastructure employees, ranked 51st.

The study found that the workforce responsible for supporting the nation’s infrastructure, including transportation, water and energy systems, is far larger than currently thought. One in every 10 Americans holds an infrastructure job, and these jobs stretch across 95 occupations and 42 industries.

Only 15 percent of infrastructure workers actually build infrastructure, while 77 percent operate infrastructure systems.

Material movers, truck drivers and electricians hold the largest portion, or 30 percent, of infrastructure jobs. Those findings were more pronounced among Oklahoma City’s workforce, where those occupations accounted for about 35 percent of infrastructure jobs.

According to the Brookings report, infrastructure jobs offer more equitable wages compared to other occupations. Infrastructure workers at lower ends of the income scale earn 30 percent more than all workers at those levels nationally. Additionally, 59 of the 95 jobs pay above-average wages overall, with air traffic controllers, nuclear engineers, and marine engineers/naval architects leading the way.