US green jobs program falls short of goals
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A $500-million green jobs program to train U.S. workers for new jobs and help spark recovery from the great recession has fallen far short of its goals, according to a report from the Labor Department's internal watchdog released on Friday.
As of June 30, fewer than 31,000 people who went through training programs got green jobs, only 38 percent of what had been projected, the department's Inspector General said in the report.
Of those workers, less than 12,000 kept these jobs for more than six months, a mere 16 percent of what organizations that got grants had targeted when they were awarded the money.
The impact of the Recovery Act Green Jobs training program has been limited in terms of reported employment outcomes, the report said.
The Labor Department said it disagreed with the conclusions. This report does not take into account that nearly half of the grants are still active and thousands of workers are still participating in the program, a spokeswoman said in a statement. The department said its own early analysis showed that most program participants who obtained jobs by Dec. 31, 2010, had kept them. For 13,000 workers who completed training by June 30, 2011, 57 percent had obtained jobs, it said.
The department's $500-million training program was part of the $90 billion earmarked for clean-energy spending in the 2009 economic stimulus package.
The administration of President Barack Obama had aimed to create more than 700,000 jobs while spurring development of renewable power and making buildings more energy efficient.
The Obama administration's clean-energy spending has been pilloried as wasteful during the presidential campaign, with Republican challenger Mitt Romney often brandishing the example of bankrupt solar company Solyndra that received a government loan of more than $500 million.
The Inspector General's audit was requested by Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee. Issa, a frequent critic of Obama's green-energy spending, said in a statement that the report showed the program was poorly thought-out, mismanaged and dysfunctional.
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