Green may yield 2 million jobs

WASHINGTON — A new report shows that the United States can create 2 million jobs over two years by investing in a rapid green economic recovery program. The report also shows this $100 billion green investment package would create nearly four times more jobs than spending the same amount of money within the oil industry, and would reduce the unemployment rate to 4.4 percent over two years.

"Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy," was prepared by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst under commission by the Center for American Progress. It was authored by Robert Pollin, Heidi Garrett-Peltier, James Heintz, and Helen Scharber of PERI. The report was released in conjunction with the Green Jobs for America campaign and marks the start of a week-long green jobs tour with stops in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, New York, Missouri, Tennessee, and Minnesota.

The new report shows that, in addition to creating 2 million jobs nationwide over two years, this $100 billion green economic recovery package would:

  • Create nearly fourtimes more jobs than spending the same amount of money within the oil industry and 300,000 more jobs than a similar amount of spending directed toward household consumption.
  • Create roughly triple the number of good jobs—paying at least $16 dollars an hour—as spending the same amount of money within the oil industry.
  • Reduce the unemployment rate to 4.4 percent from 5.7 percent (calculated within the framework of U.S. labor market conditions in July 2008).
  • Bolster employment especially in construction and manufacturing. Construction employment has fallen from 8 million to 7.2 million jobs over the past two years due to the housing bubble collapse. The Green Recovery program can, at the least, bring back these lost 800,000 construction jobs.

The green economic recovery program addresses the immediate need to boost our struggling economy and accelerate the adoption of a comprehensive clean energy agenda through a $100 billion investment that would combine tax credits and loan guarantees for private businesses along with direct public investment spending.

The recovery program aims to boost private and public investment in six energy-efficiency and renewable energy strategies: retrofitting buildings to improve energy efficiency; expanding mass transit and freight rail; constructing “smart” electrical grid transmission systems; and increasing the production of wind power, solar power, and next-generation biofuels.

The report shows the vast majority of the 2 million jobs would be in the same areas of employment that people already work in today, in every region and state of the country. For example, constructing wind farms creates jobs for sheet metal workers, machinists, and truck drivers, among many others. Increasing the energy efficiency of buildings through retrofitting requires roofers, insulators, and building inspectors. Expanding mass transit systems employs civil engineers, electricians, and dispatchers.

“This green economic recovery program is part of a comprehensive low-carbon energy strategy and would be a down payment on a 10-year policy program recommended by the Center for American Progress, including the immediate adoption of a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as targeted standards and incentives to spur the transition to clean energy,” said Bracken Hendricks, a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress.
The green recovery program investments would fund:

  • $50 billion for tax credits. This would assist private businesses and homeowners to finance both commercial and residential building retrofits, as well as investments in renewable energy systems.
  • $46 billion in direct government spending. This would support public building retrofits, the expansion of mass transit, freight rail and smart electrical grid systems, and new investments in renewable energy.
  • $4 billion for federal loan guarantees. This would underwrite private credit that is extended to finance building retrofits and investments in renewable energy.