“The road to recovery is never straight.” – President Obama

On Friday, just after the December 2009 unemployment figures were released, President Obama announced that $2 billion in tax credits would be made available to the clean energy manufacturing industry to stimulate green collar job growth in our nation.

Clean energy jobs have been hyped, and appropriately so in my opinion, as part of the solution to the nation’s economic as well as environmental crises. However, the looming jobless recovery and the continued poor unemployment figures are hindering the growth of green collar jobs.

To help stimulate growth in the clean energy sector, the government is setting aside $2.3 billion in tax credits. It is estimated that these tax credits will lead to 17,000 new jobs but many more when leveraging these credits with $5 billion in private sector funding.

Every time I write about numbers like this I cringe because I know that some green job naysayer is going to hop in and say, “Well that’s $1 million per new job that will only pay $40k per year, how is that wise?” (Note: I didn’t do the math, just using this as an example).

The point isn’t that we’re spending more on creating a new job than the job pays, the point is that we’re stimulating the economy, training these under and unemployed workers for a lifelong career, and we’re reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

Think outside of the box and look beyond the raw numbers. These jobs are going to put people to work for a lifetime. There’s money saved in government housing and food assistance, Medicaid, and many other areas. These newly trained workers will have more disposable income, will buy more products, and will pay more taxes. You can’t take $2.3 billion and divide it by 17,000 and say that these tax credits cost too much, you just can’t.

The $2.3 billion in tax credits will be disbursed to more than 180 projects in 40 states. The program was so popular that the government received funding requests totaling $7.6 billion — nearly three times what was ultimately awarded. The interest in growing the clean energy sector is there and now the funding is being worked out to support this interest.

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