On Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that 36,000 new jobs were lost in February but that the February 2010 unemployment rate remained steady at 9.7 percent. Later that day, President Obama discussed the importance of clean energy jobs as part of our country’s economic recovery during a speech at OPOWER in Arlington, Va.
Obama was thankful that the jobless figures were better than expected, especially considering the winter storms that plagued the East Coast during February, but that “it’s more than we should tolerate.”
With unemployment at 9.7 percent, 36,000 new job losses are definitely more than should be tolerated. We should be seeing job growth and not job loss at this stage. The nation needs to get back down to at least the 5.0 percent of December 2007, which represents the start of our current recession. Clean energy jobs can be an important part of this process.
President Obama praised OPOWER for its successes; the company produces an energy efficiency software program that allows companies to better manage their energy use and ultimately increase their energy efficiency.
“The jobs of tomorrow will be jobs in the clean energy sector, and this company is a great emblem for that. That's why my administration is taking steps to support a thriving clean energy industry across this country — an industry that's making solar panels, and building wind turbines, producing cutting-edge batteries for fuel-efficient cars and trucks, and helping consumers get more control over their energy bills.” Source: White House
President Obama took this opportunity to discuss his Homestar project, which will provide rebates to homeowners for energy efficiency upgrades and retrofits — above and beyond those that are already available. Not only does this help homeowners reduce their energy use and costs, but it also puts money back in to the economy because contractors are often needed to perform these upgrades.
It looks as though it's a win-win situation but unfortunately these programs aren’t moving along very quickly. Unemployment is still near 25-year highs and the economy isn’t recovering as fast as Americans would hope.