Report: California High-Speed Rail Unlikely To Create 1 Million Jobs

SAN JOSE (CBS / AP) — Backers of a plan to build a high-speed rail system from Sacramento to San Diego have inflated the number of jobs the project would generate by as many as 50 times, according to a published report.

State leaders hoping to secure federal funding have repeatedly said the railroad would produce one million jobs.

However, the San Jose Mercury News reported Wednesday that the railroad would create an average of 20,000 to 60,000 jobs during the 22 years it’s expected to be under construction.

The discrepancy, according to the newspaper, came about because officials counted each year a construction worker remained employed on the project as a separate job.

But counting one worker’s 10 years of employment as 10 separate jobs is not usually how job figures are arrived at for large public works projects, the newspaper said.

“Job-years and jobs are like apples and Twinkies, they’re not even in the same food group,” said Elizabeth Alexis, co-founder of a rail watchdog group called Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design. “It’s not accurate, and it’s misleading.”

Officials also assumed that every construction job would generate enough economic activity to add two outside jobs.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s jobs czar, Michael Rossi, told the Mercury News “there was no plan to mislead anyone by manipulating the numbers.”

California’s high-speed rail plan is on pace to become to the most expensive public works project for any state in U.S. history. After voters approved a bond measure to fund it in 2008, its $33 billion price tag has nearly tripled.

Dan Richard, a Brown appointee to the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board, said officials could do a better job explaining job projections, but the bottom line for most Californians is that the project would ease unemployment.

“It’s absolutely fair that we should be more disciplined about that going forward, Richard said. “At the end of the day, I don’t know if it really changes anything. The bottom line is if you’re unemployed, you don’t care if it’s jobs or job-years.”

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • Bay Area Guy

    “California’s high-speed rail plan is on pace to become to the most expensive public works project for any state in U.S. history.”

    All the news about this project point to a failed pram that will not die.

    We all know this project WILL be WAY!!! Over budget and tax payers will be making Rich people Richer for it.

    All the reports say this is a bad idea—But the people who will benefit the most from this project Keep pushing to make sure this project moves forward.

  • Davide Florez

    Very powerful and highly influential (think $$$ political donations) Unions are the entities continuing to push Democratic politicians in Sacramento for this $117 – $350 Billion HSR Train to Nowhere Boondoggle. The California Labor Federation is pushing for a “Project Labor Agreement” for this HSR project that will mandate/guarantee that only CA Unions can work on this project, and only if they get “prevailing wages and benefits”, which are far more lucrative than anything offered in the real world (i.e. non-government business world). Don’t believe me? Well, watch this video and public comment from the CA Sentate Transportation Committee hearing on May 3, 2011 (where State Senator LaMalfa’s state SB22 to defund the CAHSRA and project was being discussed). In the OPPOSITION public comment to this bill you can see who speaks against LaMalfa:
    1. California Labor Federation (union);
    2. State Operating Engineers (union);
    3. State Buildings and Construction Trades Council (union);
    4. California State Federation of Laborers (union);
    5. State Laborer’s Council (union);
    6. Contractors/Vendors standing to make money off the project (i.e. Siemens/Parson’s Brinkerhoff, etc.)

    The Unions support Democratic politicos, from Governor Brown, to Galgliani, etc. There is also a revolving door between former public sector Democratic politicos then going “in house” with fat very lucrative “non-public” employment contracts with these contractors/firms/vendors where they make way, way more than their $135,000 state legislator salaries, and which contracts aren’t subject to public disclosure per a California Public Records Act Request (under Cal. Govt. Code) – so connected Democrats need to make sure the boondoggle and BILLION DOLLAR CONTRACTS are still being awarded when they leave office – it’s about the money, money, money – that’s it:

    See Union influence here:

    California’s Top Construction Union Officials Love the State’s $100 Billion High-Speed Rail Project

    November 29, 2011 – 7:05 pm

    The November 27 Bakersfield Californian newspaper includes an opinion piece written by Bob Balgenorth, head of the California State Building and Construction Trades Council, promoting construction of the state’s proposed $98.5 billion High-Speed Rail as a better alternative to construction of freeways and airports: Bob Balgenorth: Airport, highway expansion impractical; HSR better option. He also had an opinion piece in the November 12 Merced Sun-Star: Bob Balgenorth: California can’t afford not to build high-speed rail system.

    What would lead Mr. Balgenorth to make such a bold public assertion? Is it possible he has greater wisdom and foresight than the average Californian about getting a speedier ride from Madera to Corcoran after 2017?

    Associated Builders and Contractors of California has long tracked reports and rumors that the California State Building and Construction Trades Council and its affiliated construction trade unions want contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with unions in order to work on the California High-Speed Rail Project. Either the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s Board of Directors would approve a resolution requiring its contractors to sign a PLA, or political pressure could be exerted behind the scenes to convince the prime contractor to negotiate and sign a PLA (without any explicit direction from the High-Speed Rail Authority). The threat was only heightened in March 2011, when the State Senate Rules Committee appointed Bob Balgenorth to a vacant seat on the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors. (Operating Engineers Local No. 3 business manager Russ Burns also serves on the nine-member board.)

    Construction union meddling with the California High-Speed Rail project began as far back as February 2003, when construction unions pushed for the enactment of Assembly Bill 1506, a bill that required the High-Speed Rail Authority to operate a “Labor Compliance Program.” As reported in the October 1, 2003 Merced Sun-Star, then-State Senator Jeff Denham asked soon-to-be-recalled Governor Gray Davis to veto the bill because it could lead to a Project Labor Agreement. Rumors continued to circulate in the next six years about the unions targeting the project for a PLA….

  • california political jobs

    As tough as things are California does have a bright future in several industries. The software, bio tech , and green industries are basically based out of California. The green and bio tech industries are still maturing and have a lot of opportunity to create jobs for Californians.

  • ed

    Isn’t it time to give up on this losing proposal before more time and money are expended? Only those that benefit are pushing this. Shame on Gov. Brown and his cronies. This is more proof of how the the State and Feds waste, spend our money without consideration of how they are impacting people’s lives.

  • mj

    When in doubt follow the money. This ill project is promoted and pushed by the unions. The trains died in the 50’s because everyone started to travel by automobile. Remember? Today also everyone travels by either an automobile or an airplane. Trains belong in the 1930’s.
    CA has banned the incandescent lightbulb, but it wants to bring back trains? Is Amtrak really doing such brisk business that we need more trains? This can only make sense to the politicians in Sacramento.

  • Daryl Oster

    RE: “CA HSR will generate 20k to 60k jobs”. Ok, that is an average of 40k jobs. How much is the cost per Job? $99B / 40k = $2.475 Million PER JOB! Just the interest on $2.475M would pay for 3 government workers to sit on their butts all day and surf the Internet.
    As far as the viability of High Speed Rail system: There is only ONE HSR system in the world that is recovering it’s operating expense alone (Japan’s Shinkansen). Japan has more than 6 times the population density of CA. Cars in Japan are punished with a 400% tax on fuel, a 100% tax on the vehicle, and the engine must be fully replaced every 30,000 miles (and still over 65% choose to use cars to travel). Japan’s HSR construction cost was fully paid by the government, the surplus from fares in excess of operating expense is less than 1% of the construction cost.

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