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Green Jobs and AB32 - Solutions for Unemployment?

AB32 is the kicking post for energy companies who are struggling to hold onto the status quo. Out of state energy companies are conducting a battle against California's clean energy regulation, AB32. But job growth is on the side of renewable energy and energy efficiency -- and the conversion to cleaner energy futures for residents, companies and our environment.

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Economic forecasts in California back up national findings, according to Mother Jones.

A study released early 2010 by Navigant Consulting for the Renewable Electricity Standard Alliance indicated that a federal renewable electricity standard that required 25% of electricity come from renewable sources like wind and solar power could create 274,000 jobs nationally.

The Churning of Jobs is Normal

A Congressional Budget Office study of federal proposals to cut greenhouse gases found only a "modest" impact on GDP. And while there would be job loss in the fossil fuel industry or other industries that are heavily reliant on those dirty energy sources, new jobs would be created in other sectors. CBO concluded that the "churning of jobs that would be spurred by climate legislation would be small compared with what normally occurs."

While enacting AB32 could cause job loss in some sectors, most independent experts actually forecast growth in jobs in these sectors:

  • Renewable energy
  • Transportation
  • Energy efficiency

In fact, green jobs are pretty much the only sector growing in California.

The number of green jobs grew 36% in California between 1995 and 2008. The rate of growth for regular old jobs was only 13%.

Energy Industry Conversion

The opponents of the climate law note the growth in green jobs in their own fact sheets, while simultaneously stating that the state has lost 1.3 million jobs since the recession began in 2007 -- a fact not attributable to the climate law, considering it hasn't yet gone fully into effect.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) estimates that implementation of the AB32 law will actually save California energy consumers $7.5 billion through efficiency measures like homes and appliances that use less power.

Indefinitely putting off action would only be worse for the state; a group of 118 economists with expertise in California energy and climate issues released a statement of support for the law in July, 2010 emphasizing that "Delaying action now will be more costly than initiating action now."

Unemployment Solutions Go Beyond Green Jobs

The climate law isn't a silver bullet for California’s unemployment problem, despite all the hype about green jobs. Right now, less than 1% of the state's workforce is employed in green jobs, as the California policy group Next 10 found in a recent report.

The Sacramento Bee recently noted, "putting to work even a tenth of California's unemployed over the next three years would require green job numbers to grow 17 times more quickly [than the current growth rate]."

Unemployment solutions aren't simple, fast or same 'ole, same 'ole. The global economic shift has changed the future because of numerous factors such as population age changes, new economic development hubs such as China and India, and the loss of manufacturing, innovation and technological leadership by the US.

Unemployment - Solutions To The Unemployment Problem addresses the broader issues facing job seekers: "Much of the discussion on finding solutions to the unemployment problem has centered on the pivotal role of faster economic growth and cuts in real wages. Faster economic growth is viewed as a means of generating more jobs. Cuts in real wages are a reaction to the view that through their demands for higher wages, some groups of workers have priced themselves out of a job."

Some solutions at the local job services and policy level include:

First, the methods of accumulation and dissemination of information on available jobs and workers could be improved with job centers having access to a nationwide, integrated database of jobs, employers, and available employees.

Target various groups of jobless persons by rethinking how reduction of cyclical, frictional, seasonal, and structural unemployment in the United States is handled. Some of these programs aim to change people to match existing jobs while others create jobs to match existing worker skills.

Other creative, individually innovated solutions could include work sharing, early retirement, and reduced migration. These strategies affect the labor market by reducing the supply of labor. However, they have not won a great deal of support among "fully employed" economists. :-)

Unconventional Solutions for Unemployment


My research about green business, green jobs, training and community sustainability leads me to several observations:

We need a broader definition of "productivity" than mere "jobs".

Some of the most critical dangers in our American communities are in work that is not "paid for"... parenting, caring for natural resources, and even education.

Putting all our eggs in one basket (jobs) has left American families "another day older and deeper in debt".

Balancing a productive home and family workgroup that makes rearing children effectively, having productive avocations and hobbies, and exchanging goods and services with family, friends and neighbors -- are all strategies that are smarter, more efficient and more stabalizing than putting every person over the age of 14 to work at "wholesale" wages.

Entrepreneurship is a solution -- but certainly not a get rich quick solution. It's part of a productive home and family activity, that often provides a little extra income, and occasionally builds equity in a long term small business. At worst, self-employment can get caught up in the get rich quick flood and can tear a family apart.

Jobs are sometimes paid for, sometimes, earned one project at a time, and sometimes are highly overpaid welfare handouts.

Productivity is essential for survival at the individual, family and community levels. And productivity is too important to put into the hands of politicians who thrive on tax dollars that are easily levied through payroll taxes.

Think about it ... what really works for you and your family?

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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