A Plan for Creating Two Million Green Jobs in Two Years

A Plan for Creating Two Million Green Jobs in Two Years

The U.S. holds the potential to generate two million jobs in two years with a $100 billion investment in cleantech, according to new report.

"Green Recovery: A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy" describes a green recovery program that could lay the foundation for sustainable economic growth while boosting the country's energy security. The program calls for $100 billion worth of tax credits, government spending and federal loan guarantees to cut unemployment and spur growth in six cleantech and efficiency areas.

"We can be certain that the green recovery program will serve as a strong counter-force against pressures that are currently pushing unemployment up as well as more broadly increasing economic disparities," the report said. "The green infrastructure investments proposed here will also generate significant long-term advances toward creating the clean energy economy we need."

The program targets building retrofits, expansion of mass transit and freight rail, wind and solar power, biofuels and constructing a smart electrical grid.

The package would break down into three investment streams: $50 billion in tax credits to give private businesses and property owners access to building retrofits and renewable energy systems; $46 billion in direct government spending on mass transit expansion, smart electrical grid and public building retrofits; and $4 billion in federal loan guarantees to help finance renewable energy and building retrofits.

Spending the money in these areas would create four times as many jobs as investing an equal amount in the oil industry, and triple the number of jobs paying more than $16 an hour, the report found. It also would lower the unemployment rate from 5.7 percent to 4.4 percent and offset the 800,000 jobs lost in the construction sector.

Some jobs would be found in specialized areas, such as installing solar panels, but most would include existing jobs already being performed throughout the U.S. For instance, investment in wind power generation could create jobs for environmental engineers, iron and steel workers, truck drivers and machinists. Growth in second-generation biofuels may drive demand for chemists, agricultural supervisors and blending machine operators.

The report suggests raising the money by auctioning carbon permits in a national greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program.

Researchers from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst prepared the report on behalf of the Center for American Progress.