'Green' Jobs in Spotlight, High on Agenda
"Green" jobs are the employment buzzword of the hour, with Barack Obama's administration and his Labor secretary-designate, Hilda Solis, about to get to work on a jobs and economic stimulus package. Democratic leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled a bill last week, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, to move on jobs training and education funding. U.S. Rep. George Miller, chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, said the bill is meant to get the U.S. economy moving.
"With our economy worsening by the day, bold and strategic investments are needed to jumpstart our economy and drive long-term growth and competitiveness,” said Miller, whose committee will handle the bill. "This remarkable effort will get Americans back to work quickly, strengthen educational opportunities for our children, and fuel innovation. Together, with President-elect Obama, we are moving quickly to build a 21st Century economy and strengthen our nation's middle class.”"
The bill contains $4 billion for job training, both to help unemployed workers get green jobs and jobs in emerging industries and also to fund 1 million summer youth jobs; $20 billion for repairing and modernizing schools; $79 billion to help states fund education and vital programs; $15.6 billion to increase educational Pell Grants for college students; and $27 billion in extended unemployment benefits. A 13-page summary of the bill's contents is available at this site.
Several members of Congress and the new administration are scheduled to take part in the Feb. 4-6 Good Jobs, Green Jobs 2009 National Conference at Washington, D.C.'s Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. More than 2,000 business, labor, and environmental advocates are expected to attend to hear speakers including John Podesta, President Bill Clinton's former chief of staff and co-chair of the Obama transition team; U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Amy Klobuchar, R-Minn.; Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius; and Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa.
A recent report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors said the U.S. economy generates more than 750,000 green jobs today, and that number is expected to increase to more than 4.2 million jobs during the next three decades.