President Barack Obama will spend some of $4 billion in economic stimulus money that was budgeted to renovate public housing on creating so-called “green jobs” by making the dwellings more energy efficient, a cabinet secretary planned to announce on Tuesday.
Obama has pushed greening the economy _ reducing dependence on foreign energy sources, developing domestic alternatives and easing the effects of climate change _ as a way to help pull the economy out of its worst downturn since the Great Depression.
Green jobs, broadly defined as work that helps the environment, pay up to 20 per cent more than other jobs, are more likely to be union jobs and are more likely to be held by men, but less so by minorities and people who live in cities, according to a report Obama’s Middle Class Task Force issued in February. These jobs also are ones that cannot be easily transferred overseas.
Housing Secretary Shaun Donovan was making the spending announcement on Tuesday in Denver at a task force meeting.
Donovan said on Monday that the investment in public housing will help meet several goals, improving the quality of public housing, reducing energy costs for residents and the government, and creating jobs for people who live in the units and in the surrounding community.
Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, another task force member, also will announce that $500 million from the $787 billion stimulus is becoming available to train workers for these jobs. That sum includes $50 million for communities battered by job losses and restructuring in the auto industry.
Donovan said replacing windows, insulation, appliances and light bulbs are among the possible renovations.
The task force, which includes several other Cabinet secretaries, has been working since January to highlight policies and practices to help improve the standard of living of the middle class, an income group that suffered as the economy faltered.
The meeting at the Denver Science Museum, where Obama signed the stimulus plan into law three months ago, was being held to outline different ways government departments are working to steer the middle class toward green jobs.
Jared Bernstein, the task force executive director, said the panel’s agenda complements Obama’s.
“By boosting the green economy, you’re promoting green energy and clean production at the same time that you’re generating green jobs,” Bernstein, who is also Vice President Joe Biden’s chief economist, said on Monday in an interview. Biden is in charge of the task force.