White House Projects Gains in Health, 'Green' Jobs

By David Cho
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 14, 2009

President Obama's economic team released an upbeat employment forecast yesterday that predicted robust jobs growth in the health-care and clean-energy sectors, and a recovery in manufacturing positions over the next decade.

The outlook from the Council of Economic Advisers supports the administration's view that its $787 billion stimulus program will create jobs, if it is given time to work.

Republicans say the soaring unemployment rate is a sign that the stimulus package has not been effective. Those critics could become more vociferous if the unemployment rate breaks into the double-digits by the fall, which is expected by many economists. The rate stands at 9.5 percent.

The 27-page report defends Obama's view that the stimulus package will create or save 3.5 million jobs by the end of next year, though its predictions were partly based on 2007 Labor Department data put together before the worst of the crisis hit the economy.

Yesterday's report says that 6.5 million jobs have been lost since the recession began in December 2007. "More losses are expected before the economy reaches bottom and employment growth returns," the report says.

The council says the decline in the manufacturing sector should moderate as the aerospace and pharmaceutical industries grow and hire workers. Manufacturing has been one of the hardest hit, forcing many corporations to close their doors and others to file for bankruptcy protection.

Between 2000 and 2016, health-care jobs are expected to grow by 48 percent, the council said. The greatest needs will be for doctors, nurses, information-technology workers, laboratory technicians and physical therapists. The projections do not account for Obama's plans to revamp the U.S. health-care system.

The report says that "green" jobs, such as environmental engineers and scientists, would grow by 52 percent between 2000 and 2016. But retail jobs may thin as consumer spending slows.

The council calls for a "comprehensive strategy" to better prepare workers and overcome "important limitations" in the U.S. education system so that workers can keep up with changes in the job market.

"A well-functioning post-high school education and training system cannot be achieved with the current, often conflicting and confusing, maze of job-training programs spread across several federal agencies," the report says.

Administration officials say that the community college network may be critical to getting students the skills they need to compete in the world economy. Obama addressed this subject in a column in The Washington Post on Sunday.

"In an economy where jobs requiring at least an associate's degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience, it's never been more essential to continue education and training after high school," Obama wrote.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company