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Green-Collar Jobs: The Future of Economic Growth?

by Joey

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The Green Jobs Act of 2007 aligns economic growth with environmental sustainability. With popularity and resources growing, green businesses, workers and the end consumer may have cause to jump on the "green-collar" bandwagon.

When the U.S. Congress passed the Green Jobs Act of 2007, it represented a landmark moment for the role of sustainable development in American economic growth. With the bulk of environmental jobs previously confined to niche businesses catering mostly to the country's elite classes, the act took a first step toward making green industry accessible to the common man. The Green Jobs Act committed $125 million in federal money to train new workers in the fields of clean energy, construction and manufacturing.

One of the corollaries of this legislation has been to drive economic growth in low-income communities. Or, in the language of the bill, to create "green pathways out of poverty." The thinking goes something like this: allocate monies to companies and organizations needing fresh sources of labor--such as those specializing in solar power and home design and construction--and begin to give workers skills in these areas, thus offering them a competitive advantage in the job market. Jobs are created and, as a bonus, the interests of environmental sustainability are served.

The Green Jobs Act reflects the growing popularity of a larger trend, tagged the "green-collar" movement. Now espoused by presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, green-collar is today's buzz word for making environmentalism a priority to the middle and working classes. In a case such as this where economic interests and earth-friendly considerations are aligned, popularity should only increase. And the more attention the green-collar movement attracts, the more money and resources will be directed its way.

This growing popularity presents a unique opportunity for small businesses offering sustainable product options to team with pro-environment organizations and contractors that provide green-collar jobs. Together, groups with shared green interests can create more jobs and get the word out about cleaner, alternative ways of doing business. In the end, the consumer stands to benefit, too, as sustainable products like bamboo and coconut palm wood--once reserved as status symbols for the wealthy--may become commonplace in the American household.

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