Is this the light at the end of the tunnel that the American economy has been searching for? On Friday, the U.S. Labor Department reported that the unemployment rate dropped to 8.5%, its lowest level in nearly three years. The most promising job growth sectors in the report included transportation, warehousing and manufacturing.
The manufacturing bright spot is also reflected in a recent report from the Institute for Supply Management that found the highest reports of net hiring in the American manufacturing sector in six months. As the New York Times recently noted, this comes as a surprise to many since “until last year, there had not been a single year when [American] manufacturing employment rose since 1997.”
Where are these good, old-fashioned American manufacturing jobs coming from? In part, they are coming from wind power.
While the wind industry can't single-handedly save all U.S. manufacturing, we are bringing an entirely new manufacturing base to the U.S. and creating one of America’s fastest growing manufacturing sectors. With most activity happening since 2005, the wind industry now has 400+ manufacturing facilities in the U.S. with 20,000 American manufacturing jobs across our supply chain.
Remarkably in an age of job outsourcing, wind power is actually “insourcing” a whole new manufacturing sector. Sixty percent of a wind turbine's value is now produced here in America, compared to 25 percent prior to 2005.
Why is wind manufacturing growing in the U.S.? It’s simple economics. As Steve Lockard of wind turbine rotor blade maker TPI Composites recently wrote on the Fox News website, “This is because wind energy is different. Our components are so large – some wind turbine blades are approaching half the length of a football field – that it becomes much cheaper to build them close to where they will be deployed. That meansfactories in the windy heartland, states like Illinois, Ohio, Kansas and Iowa.”
And wind manufacturing can keep growing, if Congress keeps taxes stable and low on this promising new source of clean energy and American jobs. A recently released study from Navigant Consulting found that with stable tax policy the wind industry can grow to nearly 100,000 American jobs in the next four years, including growing the wind manufacturing sector by one third to 46,000 American manufacturing jobs. This will keep wind power on track toward supporting the 500,000 jobs by 2030 envisioned in a report by the U.S. Department of Energy during the George W. Bush administration.
Unfortunately, this enormous progress is threatened today, with wind’s key Production Tax Credit incentive expiring at the end of 2012. Congress must extend this incentive soon so that U.S. windpower can continue to flourish and create new American manufacturing jobs. Otherwise, that hopeful light at the end of the economic tunnel may be an oncoming train.
WSJ op-ed: 'Want Growth? Try Stable Tax Policy', January 5, 2012
Will Congress give gift of wind power jobs to Americans or foreign countries?, January 3, 2012
Fact check: Heritage errs in supporting job-killing tax hike, December 19, 2011
Fact check: Globalwarming.org ignores energy incentive history, December 19, 2011
Blogger sees PTC extension as 'no-brainer', December 15, 2011
Don't hit wind with job-killing tax hike, December 5, 2011
Fact check: Pompeo and Labrador miss mark with subsidy bill, December 1, 2011
Selective Use of Energy Subsidies is Unfair (letter to editor, Washington Times), November 30, 2011
Red State Energy, Red State Jobs, November 29, 2011
Governors' letter urges prompt extension of wind tax incentive, November 16, 2011
Wind power: Keeping America's lunch money at home, November 14, 2011
Clean energy: A bipartisan goal, November 9, 2011
Nonpartisan Congressional report underscores need for stable wind energy policy, October 3, 2011
Iowa Gov. Branstad cites wind jobs, current and future, September 14, 2011