WASHINGTON (June 18, 2009) -- As clean energy and climate legislation moves through Congress, new data show that a $150 billion investment in clean energy could create a net increase of 1.7 million American jobs and significantly lower the national unemployment rate. According to the analysis, shifting to a clean-energy economy will help millions of low-income Americans by creating more accessible job opportunities -- with the potential for advancement -- and by lowering utility bills and transportation costs.
Two complementary reports - prepared by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (PERI), Center for American Progress (CAP), Green For All, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) - outline how investment in a clean-energy economy will produce significant economic and job creation benefits. These include the generation of roughly three times more jobs than would be generated by the same investment in the existing fossil fuel infrastructure.
“As Congressional leaders debate energy and climate legislation in Washington, we are seeing growing momentum behind a shift to clean energy and efficiency across America," said Peter Lehner, Executive Director of NRDC. “It's never been clearer that American ingenuity and investment in clean energy can be a driving force for economic growth, energy independence, and environmental protection, so we can increase economic opportunities while reducing global warming pollution.”
“Jobs are the cornerstone of any economic recovery, and these reports show that investing in the clean-energy economy will create 1.7 million new jobs across the country as well as cut America’s contribution to global warming and reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” said John Podesta, President of the Center for American Progress.
The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy: How the Economic Stimulus Program and New Legislation Can Boost U.S. Economic Growth and Employment from PERI and CAP explains how the combination of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) could serve as the foundation for bringing total clean-energy investments in the United States to approximately $150 billion per year. This public spending and private investment would produce a net gain of 1.7 million new jobs.
“These reports make clear that investment in a clean-energy economy will create pathways to prosperity for millions of Americans, especially in low-income communities and communities of color,” said Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO of Green For All. “Green-collar, career-path jobs that are accessible to Americans from a broad range of educational backgrounds are a win for our economy, a win for our environment, and a win for our workers.”
Green Prosperity: How Clean-Energy Policies Can Fight Poverty and Raise Living Standards in the United States from PERI, NRDC and Green For All shows that shifting from traditional fossil fuel to clean energy will improve the standard of living for millions of Americans across all skill and education levels, especially among lower-income families.
According to the “Green Prosperity” report, nearly half of the 1.7 million new jobs created by green investment will be accessible to workers with relatively low levels of formal education. Of these, nearly 75 percent will have high potential for advancement. This expansion could drive down the unemployment rate by more than one percentage point.
In addition to creating new economic opportunities, this investment will significantly contribute to improvements in energy efficiency in buildings and homes, lowering overall energy costs for consumers and especially benefiting lower-income households. These savings could be as high as 4 percent of household incomes for some families. Moving to clean energy would also improve public transportation, especially in urban areas, which could lead to an average reduction in living costs of 1 to 4 percent per family.
“Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy” breaks down the economic growth potential in all 50 states, while the “Green Prosperity” report focuses on job creation and the economic impact on lower-income families in 41 regions across 22 states.
“These studies draw on simple but robust modeling techniques to estimate the effects on U.S. employment and living standards of a $150 billion annual clean-energy investment program,” said Robert Pollin, Co-Director, Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts. “By synthesizing these data sources and modeling approaches in a new way, we are able to observe in detail how clean-energy investments can deliver substantial benefits to communities throughout the country, especially for lower-income working people and their families.”