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Wicks-Lim: We Need a (Green) Jobs Program

Jeanette Wicks-Lim

Jeannette Wicks-Lim ’05 PhD, Political Economy Research Institute, writes a column about the need for a green jobs program to provide employment and to counter pollution and reliance on fossil fuels. (Dollars & Sense, Sept./Oct. issue)

We Need a (Green) Jobs Program
Clean-energy investment would promote job growth for a wide swath of the U.S. workforce.
By Jeannette Wicks-Lim

Fourteen months of an unemployment rate at or near 10% clearly calls for the federal government to take a lead role in job creation. The White House should push its clean-energy agenda as a jobs program but steer clear of all the hype about “green-collar” jobs. Green-collar jobs are widely perceived as job opportunities accessible only to an elite segment of the U.S. workforce—those with advanced degrees, such as environmental engineers, lab technicians, and research scientists. Such jobs are inaccessible to the 52% of unemployed workers with no college experience. The truth is, however, that clean-energy investments could serve as a powerful engine for job growth for a wide swath of the U.S. workforce.

My colleagues at the Political Economy Research Institute and I examined a clean-energy program that includes making buildings more energy efficient, expanding and improving mass transit, updating the national electric grid, and developing each of three types of renewable energy sources: wind, solar, and biomass fuels. Here’s what we found.  Read more…

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