Green way towards good jobs?

Can the pressing needs to reduce unemployment, create good jobs, and develop a green economy and alternative energy sources come together?

Many are saying yes, including economist James K. Galbraith, who urges significant public investments in energy development that will, in turn, address unemployment.  Galbraith’s recommendation is one piece of his ambitious program for rescuing the economy, published in the current Washington Monthly:

Today the largest problems we face are energy security and climate change—massive issues because energy underpins everything we do, and because climate change threatens the survival of civilization. And here, obviously, we need a comprehensive national effort. Such a thing, if done right, combining planning and markets, could add 5 or even 10 percent of GDP to net investment. That’s not the scale of wartime mobilization. But it probably could return the country to full employment and keep it there, for years.

For the full article, “No Return to Normal”: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2009/0903.galbraith.html

But “green” does not automatically equate with “good jobs,” as Philip Mattera of Good Jobs First notes in the current issue of the American Prospect:

Unfortunately, some of the production jobs being created in the new wind- and solar-energy-equipment plants have pay levels below the national manufacturing average. Research by Good Jobs First, the organization where I work, found that quite a few of those jobs are not even paying enough for a full-time, year-round worker to reach a basic family budget for a single parent with one child, according to area-specific estimates of family income needs prepared by the Economic Policy Institute. Almost none of them pay enough to achieve the basic budget for a family with two parents and two children.

Mattera says that green economic initiatives must be coupled with unionization and effective government contracting standards in order to ensure good jobs.

For the full article, “A Green Industrial Economy”: http://www.prospect.org/cs/articles?article=a_green_industrial_economy.

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