Boosting Employment with Green Jobs


“If you spend money on clean energy project, what happens in terms of effects on employment?”  That’s the question Bob Pollin of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts seeks to answer in a pair of new reports in its Green Economics program.

The Stimulus Plan passed this spring and the Climate Bill that passed in the House last week both hitch their wagons to creating a clean energy economy, with green jobs doing the heavy pulling.  The question is, will building a clean energy economy also boost employment, particularly for lower-income workers?  Bob Pollin and his PERI colleagues propose some answers in two new reports. 

GreenProsperityGreen Prosperity: How Clean-Energy Policies Can Fight Poverty and Raise Living Standards in the United States, commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Green For All, looks at how clean energy investments will impact lower-income workers. EconomicBenefitsThe Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy: How the Economic Stimulus Program and New Legislation Can Boost U.S. Economic Growth and Employment, commissioned by the Center for American Progress, takes a broader look at how clean energy investments will impact the economy.

The reports look at both energy efficiency measures, such as building retrofits, public transportation, and smart grid, as well as clean energy such as solar, wind, and biomass.  They calculate that for every $1 million invested in these areas, 16.7 jobs are created. The PERI researchers then factor in the estimated 5.3 jobs lost in the fossil fuel sectors, for a net of 11.4 jobs gained per $1 million invested.

With estimated investment of $150 billion flowing from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), this translates into a net of about 1.7 million new green jobs across the economy.  Of these, 870,000 green jobs require only a high school degree, almost three-quarters of which offer advancement opportunities.

Next week, we’ll hear on-the-ground reports from the green job pastures.  Sea Change Co-Host Francesca Rheannon visits the Spanish American Union in Springfield, Massachusetts to speak with Patricia Moss, project manager of Groundwork Springfield, part of the Groundwork USA national movement for communities to foster economic development through green jobs that help heal the environment.  The program is particularly geared toward youth employment, and Francesca speaks with several of the young adults employed through the program. 

We’ll also hear from Adin Maynard, director of operations at Cozy Home Performance, which is embarking on a pilot project with the local utility for deep energy retrofits.

About Bill Baue

Bill Baue is Co-Director of Sea Change Media, a non-profit that makes connections in the shift to social, environmental, and economic sustainability. He co-hosts/produces Sea Change Radio, a nationally syndicated show that podcasts globally.