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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Job Creation for Millions Under the Green New Deal

Millions of green jobs will be created under the Green New Deal. Image from Green for All.

Roger H. Bezdek

The Green New Deal (GND) refers to proposals designed to address climate change, economic inequality, and other issues. The name derives from the New Deal, and the concept of the GND combines President Franklin Roosevelt’s program with contemporary plans involving environmental programs, renewable energy, and energy efficiency.

The GND is controversial. Democrats advocate it as a much needed economic and job stimulus and as a way to facilitate recovery from the current environment where job losses and unemployment are at record levels not seen since the Great Depression. Republicans contend that the GND would ruin the economy and destroy jobs. And there are many other views from people not connected with the two major political parties.

The GND is not well defined, and as a result its possible cost has been estimated at anywhere from $2 trillion to $6 trillion — and higher. We could estimate that the GND would cost about $2.5 trillion in expenditures and would generate more than 18.3 million jobs. This would be a relatively modest version of the GND that is concerned primarily with energy and environmental programs. Of course, the economic and job impacts of the GND would vary depending on the size, structure, and duration of the GND specified.

The 18.3 million jobs are a very large number. However, it is sobering to note that in the eight-week period from early March to early April 2020, about 36.5 million Americans filed for unemployment compensation due to the current pandemic. Thus, the 18.3 million jobs are only half as many jobs as were lost in an eight-week period.

A worker scales a giant blade of a wind turbine. Image: Department of Energy/photo by Dennis Schroeder/NREL

Of the 18.3 million jobs, about 2.25 million would be “green” manufacturing jobs, and the impact would be distributed across the economy. The industries involved are not surprising given the parts they play in the evolving transformation to a new green energy economy and subsequent economic growth.

GND jobs would be concentrated within certain sectors, including manufacturing and professional, information, scientific, and technical services. Numerous states seek to expand their high-tech industrial and manufacturing bases. Thus, not only is the relationship between the GND and jobs positive, but the types of jobs created are disproportionately scientific, professional, technical, high-skilled, manufacturing, and high-wage jobs — the very types that states wish to attract. These jobs are a requisite for a prosperous, middle class society able to support state and local governments with tax revenues. Of particular note, the GND will provide a greater-than-proportionate assist to the manufacturing sector.

The vast majority of the GND jobs would be standard jobs for accountants, engineers, computer analysts, clerks, factory workers, truck drivers, etc., while classic green jobs (photovoltaic engineer, ecologist, fuel cell technician, etc.) constitute only a small portion of the jobs created. In fact, most of the persons employed in newly created jobs may not even realize that they owe their livelihood to the GND. This is important, for a common impression is likely that the GND jobs are for green energy specialists, solar installers, environmental regulators, etc. In reality, jobs for all occupations and skills would be generated, and this should be of interest to policy-makers, organized labor, and trade and professional associations.

Jessica Kilroy, a musician whose other job is repairing wind turbintes. Screenshot

GND jobs are feasible targets for job creation in many states and regions. With a wide diversity of required skills and continuing research into relevant technologies, communities can focus development of different industry sectors. However, states and cities must recognize that they will be in intense competition for these emerging technologies and industries.

GND jobs will be created across a wide continuum of employment, skills, responsibilities, and earnings. Many of these jobs do not currently exist and do not have defined occupational titles. Further, many of the new jobs require different skills and education than current jobs and training needs must be assessed to enable this rapidly growing sector of the economy to have a sufficient supply of trained employees. Community colleges, technical schools, colleges, and universities must determine how well they are preparing the workforce for the emerging green economy.

Thus, the GND would lead to vast new employment opportunities. Although many high-tech industries almost exclusively require highly educated workers with advanced degrees, the green industries possess requirements for numerous types of occupations, experience, and skills. Many of these jobs require associate degrees, on-the-job training, or trade certifications, all of which pay higher than average wages. The wide variety of entrance points to the green industries makes this market easier to penetrate if regions market their strengths in high-tech, research, education, manufacturing, IT, green technologies, and energy. The potential payoff is game-changing.

To learn more, read the comprehensive analysis of the potential jobs impact of the GND on G.E.T.’s website at https://bit.ly/GET-GND-jobs

Dr. Roger Bezdek is an internationally recognized economist and president of MISI in Washington, D.C. He has over 30 years’ experience in the energy, environmental, and jobs areas, serving in private industry, academia, and government. He has served as senior adviser in the U.S. Treasury Department, as U.S. energy and environment delegate to the EU and NATO, and as a consultant to the UNEP, the White House, governmental agencies, and numerous corporations and organizations. He has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana. rbezdek@misi-net.com.

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