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Rise of the green collar worker

Installing photovoltaic solar panels on a residence in Portland in November 2005.

TEXT OF STORY

Doug Krizner: This morning, we'll get the numbers on July employment. Most forecasts predict the economy will add 125,000 jobs. Now just how many of those will be part of the emerging green economy is tough to tell. Demand for skilled workers is already outpacing supply. Today lawmakers are debating a bill to close that gap. From the Marketplace Sustainability desk, Sam Eaton reports.


Sam Eaton: It's called the Green Jobs Act and it's part of the House's comprehensive energy legislation.

But unlike incentives for alternative energy and stricter efficiency rules for appliances, the jobs proposal takes a different tack: It would train up to 35,000 people a year for jobs in the clean energy sector.

Van Jones with the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights says without green collar workers there won't be a green economy.

Van Jones: We're gonna have a need for literally tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of new workers who can put up those solar panels, who can build those wind farms, who can weatherize buildings. And right now we don't have a national strategy to train up those workers.

If the bill passes, one-fifth of the funds would be used to create so-called pathways out of poverty for low-income workers.

Jones says green collar jobs can offer both living wages and upward mobility.

In Los Angeles, I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

Update: The economy added fewer jobs than expected last month. Payrolls grew by 92,000 in July. That's the smallest increase in six months. Most of the gains came in education and health care, along with leisure and hospitality. Meantime, there were job losses in manufacturing, construction and government. That helped push the unemployment rate up a tick to 4.6 percent.

About the author

Sam Eaton is an independent radio and television journalist. His reporting on complex environmental issues from climate change to population growth has taken him all over the United States and the world.

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