For a generation following World War II, America’s factories were humming at full capacity while workers built a vibrant middle class. Thirty-five years later, our industrial heartland is fading in the face of global competition. And since the current recession began in December 2007, the manufacturing sector has lost two million jobs, or 14.6 percent of the workforce.
In fact, more than a quarter of American manufacturers—some 90,000—are now deemed “at risk” due to their inability to keep pace with global competitors. Today, we need a comprehensive industrial policy to rebuild manufacturing—and by extension, “Main Street”—across the United States. A critical component of a new industrial policy will be a program to make the U.S. the world’s leading manufacturer of new, green technologies and components.
This is not a pie-in-the-sky goal. It makes good economic sense and we have the capacity to do it. Renewable energy technologies provide three to six times as many jobs as equivalent investments in fossil fuels, when manufacturing, installation, operation and maintenance jobs are taken into account. This report, Building a Clean Energy Assembly Line, examines how U.S. manufacturers can realize significant economic benefits from clean energy development. It draws on research conducted by the Renewable Energy Policy Project (REPP), in collaboration with the Blue Green Alliance.