Unemployment would plummet along with the reliance on and cost of foreign oil, if the U.S. government invested $100 billion to create 2 million green jobs, according to a report from progressive groups.
The report, released Tuesday and backed by the Center for American Progress, projected that it would take two years to cultivate 2 million new jobs in six areas related to clean technologies.
Positions paying at least $16 per hour would include installing solar panels and wind turbines, expanding mass transit, renovating buildings, developing smart electrical grids, and brewing better biofuels.
The authors compared the cost as nearly equal to that of the government's April economic stimulus package, but with better long-term results, such as shrinking the unemployment rate from 5.7 percent to 4.4 percent.
Their suggested $100 billion would comprise $50 billion in tax credits to businesses and homeowners; $46 billion in direct government spending on public buildings, transportation, and energy projects; and $4 billion in federal loan guarantees to finance building retrofits and renewable energy investments.
Although that would create a short-term fiscal deficit, long-term funding could come from the proceeds of a carbon cap-and-trade system, according to the report.
The "Green Recovery" report (PDF) comes from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, which projected in June the potential rise of 14 million green-collar jobs in the United States.
A related coalition of progressive nonprofit groups aims to amplify its call for green jobs following the first presidential debate on September 26. Partners include the United Steelworkers union, the Sierra Club, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. And Green for All, led by Van Jones, has been pushing for "green-collar" jobs to replace lost blue-collar positions and to help revitalize blighted communities.
Retooling the economy to reduce the need for foreign oil has been a central theme in the platforms of both presidential candidates. Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama proposes spending $150 billion to add 5 million green jobs. Republican nominee Sen. John McCain, though less specific, says his energy and economic policies would expand the workforce by millions of positions.