Let’s talk about jobs

Job creation. It’s a top-of-mind issue for the U.S. and many other countries around the world.

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, for the U.S. to return to full employment — finding work for the currently unemployed and accommodating new entrants into the labor force this decade — the U.S. economy will need to create 21 million jobs by 2010.

This is a lofty target, to be sure. Job creation trends in the U.S. are positive at this time, which allows us to hold out hope that things are moving in the right direction. For example, Gallup’s U.S. Job Creation Index (Weekly) indicates job creation has been on a generally upward trend since about April 2009. (However, the index has not yet reached the level it was at in February 2008.)

Of the new jobs that are being created, where are they? Overwhelmingly in the private sector. In fact, according to Gallup’s index, the federal government is in a negative hiring situation, with an index value of -12, compared with a non-government index value of 25. (This situation is a reversal of what was experienced in 2008 and 2009, when the federal government had an index of 30 and the private sector -5.)

Where am I going with all of this? You know I’m headed right to hydropower. This industry has great potential to add to jobs around the world, from development of new plants, rehabilitation of existing plants, and service industry jobs surrounding these two activities. Some news stories recently posted on HydroWorld.com support this. For example:

— On Sept. 11, a story about Minesto considering Wales for deployment of its “Deep Green” tidal energy units featured a telling quote from Chief Executive Officer Anders Jansson: “This could bring highly qualified job opportunities to the region and also build expertise in marine energy.”

— In an Aug. 7 article on development of the 80-MW Rusomo Falls plant in Rwanda, the World Bank said this project will “reduce electricity costs, promote renewable power, spur job-led economic development and pave the way for more dynamic regional cooperation, peace and stability ….”

— And in a July 10 story encouraging movement on two pieces of hydropower legislation in the U.S., supporters stated in a letter, “The immediate passage of these bills will help to add more hydroelectric capacity to the nation’s electricity portfolio, producing significant job creation, energy and environmental benefits.”

If you are looking for a more specific example of job creation in this industry, we need only turn to the 84-MW Cannelton project, under construction on the Ohio River in Kentucky. Developer AMP says this project will employ about 400 construction workers at peak. Once operational, the facility will employ seven to nine permanent operators and annually contribute $2.5 million to $3 million to the local economy.

I would love to see every article or news story discussing new hydro development, no matter where it is published, highlight the job creation benefits of this industry. So, I am going to make a personal commitment to do my best to accomplish that in the magazines PennWell publishes.

Do you know of great job creation statistics with regard to hydropower? Share those, or your own story of job creation, by commenting in the box below or sending me an email at elizabethi@pennwell.com. Let’s get the word out and continue to support hydropower as a valuable source of new jobs, in the U.S. and throughout the world.

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