Greening Wisconsin’s Workforce

  • April 10, 2009
  • COWS
  • Sarah White

Escalating economic crisis and a bold federal response have intensified the regional promise of green jobs — that a green wave might lift all boats, rebuilding a prosperous industrial heartland on a sustainable bedrock of energy efficiency and renewable energy. Recession, climate change, and energy insecurity may not signal the end of the middle-American dream. A coordinated state response to these challenges could build a vibrant green economy based on clean energy and decent jobs for all.

The task is enormous, and urgent. Wisconsin lost nearly 73,000 jobs in the last twelve months, with more than half of that loss in the last four months. Precipitous job loss across all sectors  follows years of anemic overall job growth and dramatic decline of the state’s critical manufacturing sector, which lost over 14 percent of its job base between 2001-2004 and shed an additional 13,000 jobs even before last fall’s economic collapse. 1

But the challenges in Wisconsin’s labor market predate the recession and require long-term solutions. If green jobs are to begin restoring regional prosperity, any stimulus plan to create them must address larger underlying challenges facing the state’s working families.