How many jobs could be created with $20 million?
If one is talking about so-called “green jobs” in Seattle, the answer is 14.
Fox News reported Monday that 16 months after a $20 million federal grant for home weatherization was awarded, only 14 people were put to work, and most of those were administrative positions.
After doing the math, that calculates to $1,428,571.43 per job.
Worse yet, only three homes in the area were upgraded.
Todd Myers, author of “Eco Fads,” told Fox News the “jobs are not there.”
“So we’re training people for jobs that don’t exist,” he added.
KOMO notes that the grant, received on the eve of Earth Day, had the goal of creating 2,000 “living wage” jobs in Seattle, and retrofitting 2,000 homes in poorer neighborhoods.
Vanessa Ho writes that as of early August, “337 homeowners had applied for the program. Fourteen had gotten a loan, or were in the process of getting one.”
So far, the Washington Athletic Club and a few hospitals have been retrofitted.
But will the city hit its goals? Curtis was hopeful Seattle would make it by 2013, when the funding ends. Greenwich, of Puget Sound Sage, said the city needs to retrofit 100 to 200 homes a month to create 2,000 jobs. Woo, of Got Green, thinks the city needs to throw more money on incentives.
Seattle is not alone. The Department of Energy has allocated $508 million to 41 states for its Better Buildings Neighborhood Program and 600 jobs have been created or retained.
The agency, however, says it is pleased with the progress so far, but notes that different communities advance their programs at different rates.
The goal is to weatherize 150,000 homes in three years, saving homeowners $65 million annually in energy costs. So far, the government has fallen short of its goal. After the first year, only 9,000 homes have been upgraded.
Fox notes that Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says it is too early to call the program a failure.
“We may have to adjust how we market it and the incentives we provide,” he said. “Nobody has really cracked the green jobs code.”
Contractors who do the energy audits and home retrofits blame government for getting in the way. To be a participating business in Seattle, the contractor is required to pay workers $21 an hour with full benefits, including retirement pay. But according to several small business owners in the area, the prevailing wage for new workers who lay insulation is $12. per hour.
McGinn, however, insisted that allowing contractors to pay anything less than what the city has declared a ‘living wage’, amounts to a ‘race to the bottom’ for jobs.
Fox also notes that homeowners will see very little return on their investment.
The weatherization upgrades are aimed at saving 15 percent on energy consumption. If the retrofit costs $10,000 even with all the government incentives, it will take over 30 years to pay off through lower energy bills.
“The problem is the policies the politicians choose, whether green jobs or retrofits, are based on appearance,” Myers said. “They choose things that look good, rather than what’s best for the environment.”
Toledo, Kansas City and Phoenix are also having trouble fulfilling the “green jobs” promise, having created only 72 jobs with $65 million in federal grant money.
In Nevada, 1.72 permanent jobs were created after the federal government spent nearly $500,000. Fox reports:
In 2009, the U.S. Forest Service awarded $490,000 of stimulus money to Nevada’s Clark County Urban Forestry Revitalization Project, aimed at revitalizing urban neighborhoods in the county with trees, plants, and green-industry training.
According to Recovery.gov, the U.S. government’s official website related to Recovery Act spending, the project created 1.72 permanent jobs. In addition, the Nevada state Division of Forestry reported the federal grant generated one full-time temporary job and 11 short-term project-oriented jobs.
At one time, President Obama said he wanted to create 5 million “green” jobs.
At an average cost of $900,000 per job, his dream would cost $4.5 trillion – and that is over and above everything else Obama wants to spend.
Imagine how many “millionaires,” i.e., those making over $250,000, would have to be taxed for that program.
If you like this article, you can follow Joe on Twitter @jnewby1956, visit his Facebook page, or click the Subscribe button to receive email updates when a new article is published.