Connecting Black Communities with America’s Infrastructure

America is still affected by the millions of jobs lost during the Great Recession. 7.9 million jobs were lost as a result of a faltering economy. As of March 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the national unemployment rate is steady at 7.7%, while the Africa-American unemployment rate is nearly double at 13.8%. Economists blame a variety of reasons as to why African American unemployment is so high: 1) TheAfrican-American work force is younger than the white workforce. 2) 25.4 percent of African Americans hold a bachelor’s degree compared to 37.6 percent of White Americans. 3) Many of the states that were hit hardest by the recession have large populations of African Americans.

All of these factors can contribute to high unemployment but excluding these factors, African Americans still experience high joblessness. As we move forward into a solutions-focused economy, we must delve deep into untapped job opportunities with significant room for growth and that utilize innovative technology. One of the largest emerging industries is the Green Economy. 

The Green Economy has proven to be tremendously successful in creating new procurement, investment, entrepreneurial, and job opportunities. America is transitioning from dirty-energy, fossil-fued practices that policymakers and investors have agreed that we should not rely on fossil fuels since they are incredibly harmful to the environment. We must drive towards a stable economy with a maintainable economic growth model.

The Green Economy has already created millions of jobs and has produced trillions of dollars across the globe. Jobs within the Green Economy spread between industries and are tied to several different types of occupations. Jobs ranging from research, manufacturing, construction, maintenance, operations, engineering, architecture, development, policy, and advocacy are available in the Green Economy. Some of these jobs require basic technical knowledge or post-secondary credentials but many of the jobs are also available to low and middle skilled workers.

America has a crumbling infrastructure system that is in desperate need of repair. The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that the nation needs $300 billion in repairs. The American Society of Civil Engineers rated America’s infrastructure a D rating. Fortunately, infrastructure and the Green Economy give way to a symbiotic relationship that would put millions of Americans back to work; including hundreds of thousands of unemployed Latinos and African Americans.

Not only would our infrastructure be repaired but the black-white unemployment gap would narrow considerably. Usually most of the jobs created in infrastructure investments are not construction jobs (equipment suppliers, manufacturing, and transportation are highly in demand), which give African Americans greater opportunities. Although construction jobs are the employment opportunities directly created by infrastructure investments, construction relies on a number of other jobs to complete the work.

Infrastructure investments would create millions of immediate jobs while also stimulating the economy. Once the initial workers are employed and earning livable wages, they will spend that money elsewhere, supporting other businesses. Infrastructure investments would simultaneously solve two major problems; America’s need of jobs and the need to transition to clean energy practices.

If you want to learn more about the Green Economy, be sure to register today for Bridging the Gap: Connecting Black Communities to the Green Economy on April 15th in Washington DC.