A New WPA and America's Infrastructure
A new WPA would scoop up the long term unemployed from the housing, manufacturing, and construction sectors, especially those with relevant skills in construction and manufacturing, and put some of them to work churning out steel, concrete, and other construction materials while others would begin using this material to start a comprehensive updating and reconstruction of American infrastructure. It would utilize government funds, possibly money budgeted for unemployment compensation, retraining, and public assistance and pay people to work in the WPA.
Workers whose experience was in technology and engineering could be employed to supervise less skilled workers or in completely non-traditional infrastructure projects like the expansion of fiber-optic connections to every community in America and the construction of microwave towers to expand cellular service and the reach of wireless internet connections. Computer networks in schools and public agencies could be completely updated and expanded to promote efficiency.
Disaster retrofitting could also employ many people. Much of the Pacific Northwest will experience an earthquake the size of those that devastated Indonesia in 2004 and much of Japan in 2010, and this earthquake is very likely going to arrive in the next hundred years. Fixing buildings in Seattle and Portland is a great need so that they will be more likely to withstand the event when it comes. The quake will occur offshore, so tsunami shelters could protect coastal residents. And the Northwest isn't the only region not traditionally associated with quakes that needs to be looked at: evidence points to major earthquakes in the Midwest and Atlantic coast, and buildings need to be retrofitted to handle them. Environmental catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina threaten every city on the Atlantic seaboard, and it couldn't hurt to begin building emergency facilities capable of mitigating such a disaster striking the Chesapeake Bay, New York, or New England.
Environmental restoration is another potential avenue of employment and investment. Replanting forests and returning marginal agricultural land to wetlands would return much of the US to a wildlife-friendly state, which benefits property values and the quality of life nationwide.