“Green” Jobs

With all of the talk about developing and promoting new green technologies, it becomes a logical assumption that as this industry grows it will create new jobs.  Since the unemployment rate is around 10% for all of the U.S. as of Feb. 2010, an influx of new jobs would be ideal.  Also, there is a positive perception of these new jobs with the general public because they are “green,” which means they are helping reduce our consumption of carbon emitting fossil fuels, and helping improve the environment.  The problem is that currently a lot of the green technologies are not being adopted by consumers because they are too expensive.

One way to overcome that is for the government to create subsidies and mandates that would help reduce the costs and require implementation.  For example, this past week in Colorado the local government approved an increase in the required Renewable Energy Standard from 20% to 30% by 2020.  According to Environment Colorado’s study this bill would generate 23,450 jobs in the solar industry over the next decade.  Although the majority of these jobs would not be long-term, only 152 of the new jobs would last for two or more years.  Therefore, this influx of jobs would not necessarily have a lasting effect on the unemployment rate.  In addition, it is believed that to make the technologies affordable there would have to be up to 50% government subsidies on the upfront costs.

Another government program that is being proposed currently is Home Star, a rebate program that would offer homeowners a $1,500 rebate for individual home upgrades, and a $3000 rebate for an entire home retrofitting .  President Obama has been trying to push this through Congress, and for these green technologies to grow and create jobs, having the support of President Obama is crucial.  Programs like Home Star would create an extra incentive for homeowners, to invest in energy efficient improvements which would create more jobs for installations of these technologies.

Overall, it seems that as long as the costs of green technologies remain prohibitively high for adoption by the public at large, there will have to be subsidies and mandates that will lower costs and require implementation in order to create new jobs.  Also, these government policies will have to be increasingly more aggressive because the bulk of new jobs that are created involve installation and construction.  Since these are short term jobs the amount of green technologies being installed will have to be continually increasing in order to maintain these jobs.  On the whole, I believe that these policies are on the right track because they promote job creation and energy independence, but they need to be more aggressive if we want to turn around our economic and energy crisis in the near future.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to ““Green” Jobs

  1. It is unfortunate that the last push for energy efficiency in the Carter years died when oil prices went down and government lost its vision. May that not happen this time.

  2. benbrooksatut

    I would be interested to hear what you think “more aggressive” policies would look like? Obama and company have been selling us on the idea that the growing “green” industry” would provide a significant amount of jobs, but as you pointed out it hasn’t happened yet.

    I understand that the price of green technology is making rapid acceptance prohibitive, but I wonder if there isn’t more that could be happening in the low-tech space.

    It will be interesting to see how many people take adavantage of the Home Star program.

    The two biggest problems I see moving forward will be creating long-term sustainable jobs. We won’t be truly solving the unemployment problem if a majority of the green collar jobs are temporary and subject to layoffs or cyclical unemployment. The second problem that needs to be addressed is at what point can we move away from subsidies?

    Subsidies are fine in the short-term, but we have to hope the technology can become more affordable. You have to wonder if the push to innovate will truly be there if subsidies allow companies to turn a profit with their current products.

  3. thewillbilly

    I know that typically the government funds construction projects as they are shown to affect the greatest number of people. Do you know how much “trickle down” is associated with funding “green” companies?
    Secondly, are there any arguments against a capitalistic approach besides the time it would take for the market to naturally address the needs?
    Finally, do you know why the Home Star program specifically chose 1500 and 3000 dollars to subsidize home owners? Sure, it’s a large incentive, but relative to the cost of installation, it doesn’t seem like enough to really incentivize the average homeowner. Furthermore, would you oppose a more comprehensive plan? One that increases subsidies for homeowners in states who are naturally gifted in terms of solar radiation?

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