Does the jobs recovery boost chances for the bipartisan climate and clean energy jobs bill?

Employers in the U.S. created more jobs in March than at any time in the past three years, showing the recovery from the worst recession since the 1930s is broadening and becoming more entrenched.

That’s Bloomberg reporting on new data from the Labor Department, which showed that “payrolls rose by 162,000 workers, the third gain in the past five months.”

Since bad economic news would certainly be bad for a climate bill, this must be seen as good news. I have repeatedly written about studies showing how clean energy legislation will create 1.7 million jobs and opportunities for low-income families, including lower energy bills. And Nobel prize-winning NYT columnist Paul Krugman has explained why climate action “now might actually help the economy recover from its current slump” by giving “businesses a reason to invest in new equipment and facilities.”

But the conventional wisdom, or rather, the conventional ignorance, is that a climate bill will hurt jobs and the economy — even though that isn’t what the public believes, as many recent polls make clear:


That comes from a Allstate/National Journal/Heartland Monitor poll in January, when the economic and jobs picture wasn’t as good as it is today (see “It’s all about Independents “” and Independence: Unlike health care reform, the clean air, clean energy jobs bill that cuts oil use and pollution is a bipartisan political winner in every poll”).

Consider a poll on the climate bill that I wrote about in September of likely voters in 16 key states “” AK, AR, IN, ME, MI, MO, MT, NC, NV, ND, NH, OH, PA, SD, VA, WV (see Swing state poll finds 60% “would be more likely to vote for their senator if he or she supported the bill” and Independents support the bill 2-to-1):

  • On job creation: 50% say the number of jobs will increase, 26% say it will decrease and 26% say it won’t change.

A December AP-Stanford poll focusing primarily on global warming again found the public gets that the climate bill would create jobs and help the economy and/or at least not lose jobs or hurt it (see “Overwhelming US Public Support for Global Warming Action”):

Do You Think That The U.S. Doing Things To Reduce Global Warming In The Future Would Cause There To Be More/Fewer Jobs For People Around The Country?

More jobs 40%

Fewer jobs 23

Would not affect jobs 33

Do You Think That The U.S. Doing Things To Reduce Global Warming In The Future Would Hurt/Help The U.S. Economy?

Help U.S. economy 46%

Hurt U.S. economy 27

Would not affect economy 24

Certainly Republicans understand that the good job news is bad news for their agenda of opposing all of Obama’s new legislative efforts and attacking all of his previous ones, including the stimulus, as failures. Indeed, as Think Progress reported, the Republican National committee immediately responded to the Labor report by releasing a falsehood-filled briefing that claims that the job growth occured “mostly” due to hiring Census workers:

But March Job Growth Is “Disappointment” Because Job Gains Mostly From Census. “CalculatedRisk reports that even if Friday’s employment report shows a gain of 200,000 jobs in March, as expected, it might be viewed as a disappointment: ‘The March report will be distorted by two factors: 1) any bounce back from the snow storms, and 2) the decennial Census hiring that picked up sharply in March. “¦ Also the Census will add something like 100,000 workers to the March report “¦” (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,, Accessed 4/2/10; Ben White and Eamon Javers, Politico’s “Morning Money,” 3/30/10)

In fact, TP notes, “the RNC’s claim bears little relation to reality. Of the 162,000 jobs added to the economy last month, 123,000 were in the private sector.” Joel Naroff, the president of Naroff Economic Advisors, wrote in a client note that “the federal government didn’t hire nearly as many Census workers as thought. It was the private sector that stepped up to the plate.” The Census Bureau hired only 48,000 workers.


I watched the report on CNBC this morning, and the analysts were all pleasantly surprised that this job growth came with far less Census hires than expected. The chart at the top illustrating the job gains comes from Speaker Pelosi’s using Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

I would still delay starting the cap until at least 2013, to further undercut any economic attack on the bill. Also, the impacts of the recession have not worked their way through the energy system yet, so the early permit allocations are likely to be too high, which means there really is no environmental benefit in starting the bill in 2012.

Finally, it must be said that conventional wisdom has it that passage of the bipartisan climate and clean energy jobs bill is still a long shot. But conventional wisdom has been wrong so often, and now that we can see the stimulus bill spared the economy from the Bush-Cheney depression and has jumpstarted an economic recovery, there is no longer an excuse that “we can’t pass a climate bill during a recession.”

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