White House says health, green jobs growing quickly

Associated Press • Jul 13, 2009 at 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON — Health care and environment-focused jobs will drive a jobs recovery, the White House predicted Monday even as it cautioned that the work will require better training to give workers greater skills.

President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers said jobs ranging from technical record keeping to nursing and physical therapy will grow in the health fields and that greater spending on renewable energy and on a more efficient electrical power grid will spike employment in those sectors as well.

The president’s in-house economic brain trust also predicts the construction sector would eventually recover and add a demand for skilled electricians and plumbers.

The upbeat economic report served to give support for President Barack Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus plan. Critics have said it has failed to provide the results promised; its supporters, including the president, urged patience.

The White House, seeking to calm domestic frustration, has insisted its plan would eventually boost millions of jobs. The CEA report stood by a prediction that the stimulus spending would save or create 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010.

However, the job market continues to contract and more Americans are filing for unemployment. The economic recession has cost the United States 6.5 million jobs since December 2007 and has left states and cities in financial freefall.

In an interview with CNBC, the Council of Economic Advisers chairwoman, Christina Romer, said it is difficult to determine how many jobs have been created as a result of the stimulus. “You don’t know what the economy would have done without it,” she said.

The White House economists predicted a 48 percent growth between 2000 and 2016 in health care support jobs. The officials also predicted a 52 percent growth during the same period for environment-based jobs.

The administration’s 26-page report, called “Preparing the Workers of Today for the Jobs of Tomorrow,” laments that the current U.S. post-high school education and training system should be more effective at encouraging participants to complete their training and to respond to the labor market. Jobs in growth sectors will require greater analytical thinking than jobs in industries that are in decline, the report concluded.

The White House acknowledged its job growth predictions were based on a Labor Department report from 2007, before the economic troubles became a crisis and well before Obama’s spending plan took effect.

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