The good news: The unemployment rate in the U.S. isn't rising. The bad news: It's still holding steady at 10%, and 85,000 jobs were lost just in the past month. The nation's luck might turn around, however, with news today that the Obama administration is giving out $2.3 billion in clean energy manufacturing credits—a move that will create 17,000 green jobs.
The tax credits will go to 183 companies, including many focused on solar, wind, and energy management technology. Five billion dollars in private investments will match the government's contribution, creating an estimated 41,000 additional jobs. Among the tax credit recipients are United Technology Corp. (for fuel efficient jet engines), and solar companies including Wacker Polysilicon North America and Hemlock Semiconductor Corp.
While $2.3 billion for green jobs is a lot of cash, it's only a small portion of the government's $787 billion emergency stimulus package. This past fall, the White House offered $3.4 billion in investments for smart grid projects. That investment is also likely to create thousands of jobs. Of course, the Obama administration has been kind to the green tech industry in general—witness ARPA-E, a DOE program that is giving out $400 million for "moonshot" green technology in the next two years. And just yesterday, the Department of Labor announced $100 million in grants for green jobs training.
Will all this money prevent precious green jobs from being exported to China? Probably not, but it's a start. As White House press secretary Robert Gibbs noted in a statement to reporters, "We have to ask ourselves as a country, Are we going to create those jobs and create those components, or are we going to import those components from overseas?"