Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) publishes the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, which grades the current state of national infrastructure categories on a scale of A through F. Since 1998, America’s infrastructure has persistently earned low grades, and the failure to close the investment gap with needed maintenance and improvements has continued. But the larger question at stake is the implication of low infrastructure on America’s economic future.

The Failure to Act report series answers this key question—how does the nation’s failure to act to improve the condition of U.S. infrastructure systems affect the nation’s economic performance? In 2020 and 2021, ASCE released five Failure to Act reports in a series covering 11 infrastructure sectors that are critical to the economic prosperity of the U.S.

These reports were followed by a fifth, comprehensive final report, Failure to Act: Economic Impacts of Status Quo Investment Across Infrastructure Systems, which addressed the aggregate economic impact of failing to act in more than one sector. This report addresses the current infrastructure gaps between today’s needs and investment and how they will affect the future productivity of industries, national competitiveness, and the future costs to households.


Ports and Inland Waterways  (2021) — Underinvestment in ports and inland waterways stand to increase waterborne shipping costs from 8% to 22%, on average, by 2039. Manufacturing, agriculture, and production and extraction are most impacted.

Airports (2021) — A recent uptick in airport infrastructure investment is paying dividends for the residents and businesses in the U.S. However, as spending returns to previous averages, the economy will suffer. Specifically, airport congestion will cost U.S. industries and households approximately $28 billion in 2029 and $41 billion in 2039.

Electricity (2020) — An additional investment of $16.9 billion per year between now and 2039 in our electricity infrastructure can protect 540,000 jobs and $5,800 per household in personal income.

Water and Wastewater (2020) — By investing in our water infrastructure to make it more reliable, we can prevent $250 billion in increased costs to businesses by 2039.

Surface Transportation (2021) — These findings show that if industry costs are passed onto customers, costs per household could be as high as $12,500 over 20 years, or $625 dollars per year.  Losses to households and industries will amount to $677 billion over the 2020–2029 period and $1.3 trillion during the 2030–2039 decade.