As construction workers undergo a one-industry depression with unemployment nearing 25 percent and job losses spilling over into related retail and manufacturing sectors, it is essential that Congress quickly pass legislation to spur job creation. In many parts of the country, this “tool belt recession” has resulted in job losses of well over 30 percent of the construction workforce since the peak of the housing market. Manufacturing employment has dropped 16 percent overall since the recession began, but the numbers are far worse in construction-related manufacturing, with many factories running at only half their capacity. Today, building energy efficiency is one of the few bright spots on the horizon for this hard hit industry.
"HOME STAR is a smart, common sense solution to America’s jobs crisis, which will build U.S. industry and save homeowners over $9 billion on their energy bills," said Bracken Hendricks, Senior Fellow with the Center for American Progress. "With nearly 25 percent unemployment among construction workers, retrofitting America’s homes for energy efficiency can immediately put people back to work, doing the work that most needs to be done."
HOME STAR is a market-driven, low-bureaucracy program that creates jobs fast by scaling the existing industry for energy efficient home performance retrofits. HOME STAR would offer direct incentives to spur consumer demand. This $6 billion rebate program will help homeowners invest in energy efficient building mechanical systems and insulation, and whole-home energy efficiency retrofits. HOME STAR will make it simple, accessible, and affordable for consumers to save money by saving energy, and it will rapidly create more than 168,000 new jobs. The HOME STAR program is a cost-effective way to create good, high-paying jobs for idled construction workers, boost sales of American-made building materials, and reduce household energy costs for American homeowners, as President Obama outlined in a speech on March 2 at the Savannah Technical College in Georgia.
“This is not a Democratic idea or a Republican idea,” President Obama said of HOME STAR. “This is a common sense approach that will help jumpstart job creation while making our economy stronger.”
Read a CAP memo on the HOMESTAR program, here.