The fundamental challenge in this recession is that the growth that preceded it was a mirage. Bubble era borrowing created a network of financial jobs, real estate jobs and construction jobs that collapsed with the end of the bubble. Many of those jobs will never return.
An extremely high proportion (75%) of job losses in this recession are permanent rather than temporary. States will need to nurture completely new industry sectors and the infrastructure to support those jobs, while the jobless will need retraining in new skills to participate in those sectors.
After years of states leading the fight to promote clean energy and
reverse climate change and the House passing an energy bill last year,
U.S. Senate leaders have finally introduced climate change legislation,
Power Act (APA). The bill is lengthy and complex with compromises
that many leading environmental groups object to, although other groups have more positive evaluations of the
bill as a flawed, but important step forward.
Amidst a surge of questions on the veracity of climate change, 255
members of the US National Academy of Sciences, which since
1863 has advised the government on scientific and
technological issues, have expressed their disturbance by these recent
“political assaults” and have made it clear: “humans are changing the
climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which
In the State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama stated, "...jobs must be our number-one focus in 2010, and that's why I'm calling for a new jobs bill."
With the fiscal crisis forcing states to layoff hundreds of thousands
of teachers, nurses and police officers, the need for more federal job
creation and state fiscal relief support is clear. And there is
substantial momentum building around this issue in the states.
As this Dispatch will highlight, the first step is to fund jobs
that support long-term economic competitiveness, notably by investing
in people and physical infrastructure. While the economic climate for
profit-making business opportunities is more limited, investments in
education, health care, transit and energy efficiency can create
immediate jobs while strengthening building blocks for long-term
An overseen benefit of public transit is the creation and retention of sustainable jobs. On January 5, 2010, the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Smart Growth America, and U.S. PIRG released What We Learned from the Stimulus, a study that concluded that public transportation generates more jobs than highway construction, although highway construction received more American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds than public transit.
The debate over clean energy is ripping open divisions in conservative
business lobbies. Debate on federal climate change legislation has led
an increasing number of businesses to leave the Chamber of Commerce,
the National Association of Manufacturers, and other business
associations because of those organizations' stances against
recognizing the scientific validity of climate change. The revolt has
been growing ever since a senior Chamber official called for a "Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century" to evaluate evidence of global warming.