Stimulus package helps green job growth

The federal government has designated $40 billion of the $787 billion economic stimulus package to create green jobs, and the subsequent activity across the U.S. is a sign the green jobs sector will experience growth, according to MSNBC.com.

"I know energy efficiency companies and weatherization firms are gearing up to take advantage of those recovery dollars," says Van Jones, President Barack Obama's special adviser for green jobs, enterprise and innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality. "Those dollars are moving out into states and cities. There already is a lot of activity ahead of the complete disbursement of those dollars."

Although some of the green jobs growth involves launching new products or companies, most involves traditional jobs with green aspects. The most green job opportunities for immediate employment currently are energy efficiency—especially regarding building retrofitting—and renewable energy.

"We have a Saudi Arabia of renewable energy in our country—solar, wind, smart biofuels, geothermal," Jones says. "We know that renewable energy jobs across the U.S. will be coming on line with more force. That includes solar energy in the Sunbelt, wind energy production in the Plains states and off our coast, smart biofuels in the Southeast and Midwest, and geothermal everywhere."

Other expected green job growth areas include the smart grid, green manufacturing, sustainable agriculture, green chemistry and sustainable green retail.

The Obama administration still is trying to establish a national consensus on what defines a "green job," which jobs count and which industries are involved.

"The administration is working on getting more clarity and consistency with regard to this question," Jones says. "Any time there is a new development in the economy, it takes a while before there are consistent definitions and standards in that new sector."

To offer a quality green job, factors such as labor standards and safety requirements must be in place. Some labor activists are concerned that public policies and increased demands are creating more jobs overseas because the U.S. manufacturing sector is not prepared. However, Jones says the Obama administration "is committed to creating as many jobs as possible in the green sector."

Heather Stephenson, a co-founder of IdealBite.com, has been reviewing green products since 2005 and thinks they have been growing and improving each year. She believes people will be amazed when they realize the wealth of available green job opportunities.

"There are opportunities everywhere," she says. "It is going to take time, opportunity and effort. Looking back, people are going to marvel at how rich a vein the green movement was to tap."

Date : 5/8/2009


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