There are many reasons to be hopeful about the future of jobs, despite the daily litany of woes in the banking, housing, and automotive industries, and the rising unemployment rate. Recent legislation is providing an infusion of green -- cash and jobs -- into the economy, and many industries stand to benefit.

This legislation doesn’t address every green career path, of course, but the effects will be felt throughout the economy.

Green Jobs Act (GJA)

On December 19, 2007, President George W. Bush signed The Green Jobs Act of 2007 into law, authorizing $125 million per year for programs to train workers for green-collar jobs, such as energy-efficiency retrofitting and service, green building construction, and solar panel installation. The legislation was incorporated as Title X of H.R. 6, the Energy Independence and Security Act.

The training targets veterans, displaced workers, at-risk youth, and individuals in low-income families for jobs in many industries, including energy-efficient building, construction and retrofitting, renewable energy, energy-efficient vehicles, bio-fuels, and manufacturing of sustainable products using sustainable processes and materials.

The GJA authorized but didn’t provide funds for these training programs. Those came later.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)

Signed by President Barak Obama on February 17, 2009, ARRA is described as “an extraordinary response to a crisis unlike any since the Great Depression.” In addition to jump-starting the economy, one of the goals of the $787 billion legislation is to create or save three to four millions jobs, and many of them can be described as green.

The provisions with the biggest green-jobs impact include:

  • Create or save more than 3.5 million jobs over the next two years.
  • Revive the renewable energy industry and provide capital over the next three years to eventually double domestic renewable energy capacity.
  • Undertake the largest weatherization program in history by modernizing 75% of federal building space and more than one million homes.
Dollars that relate to green jobs include:
  • $50 billion in energy efficiency efforts in schools, public buildings, and subsidized housing
  • $18 billion for public transit projects
  • $11 billion to modernize the electric grid and implement a smart grid
  • $6 billion to accelerate environmental cleanup work in twelve states
  • $5.9 billion in climate change and science research
  • $2 billion for advanced battery manufacturing
  • $1.6 billion in funds, grants, and tax credits for alternative-fuel vehicles
  • $1.15 billion for job training in smart grid, energy efficiency, and other sectors
ARRA provides $500 million for a program of competitive grants for worker training and placement projects that “prepare workers for careers in energy efficiency and renewable energy as described in the Green Jobs Act,” as part of a total $1.15 billion for worker training. The U.S Green Building Council (USGBC) is just one organization that posts updates on what these training funds mean for jobs in its own industry.

The federal government’s website devoted to the economic recovery provides updates as well as links to grants, loans, and contracts related to the legislation. Other tools include an interactive map that lets you see how many jobs will be saved or created in each state. There’s also a link to search federal business opportunities near you.

In addition, the Apollo Alliance has set up a Recovery Act Information Center on its website, and the Stimulus Implementation Resources Wiki helps states and organizations share information and documents. Also, visit the White House blog posts for “Recovery in Action” updates from around the country.


Want more? Visit our green jobs channel or read all of Bronwyn's green job columns here.

Green jobs Q&A: What is the government doing to help?
New laws are being put into place which will infuse some green (cash) into green jobs. Our expert gives you the 411.