March 3, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC — As the Biden administration assembles a new economic recovery package, the Sierra Club unveiled a bold new report, “How to Build Back Better: A 10-Year Plan for Economic Renewal,” that offers a large-scale blueprint for addressing the interlocking crises of mass unemployment, racial and gender injustice, and climate change while putting millions of people back to work in family-sustaining jobs.

The report uses new economic modeling from the Political Economy Research Institute to project the quantity, quality, and demographic distribution of jobs that would be created from an economic recovery package — broken down by race, gender, wage, benefits, union density, and sector. 

“To build back better, we need an economic renewal plan as big as the crises we face. By investing $1 trillion per year, we can end the unemployment crisis by putting over 15 million people back to work in projects that deliver cleaner air, healthier homes, and a down payment on racial, economic, and climate justice. Strong labor and equity standards are essential to ensure the new jobs offer family-sustaining wages and help curb systemic racism and gender inequity instead of reinforcing the unjust status quo,” said  Ben Beachy, report author and Living Economy Director at the Sierra Club.

The investments in this proposed package align with the THRIVE Agenda — an economic renewal plan backed by more than 100 members of Congress and hundreds of leading union, racial justice, climate, and other grassroots organizations. 

Top takeaways from today’s report: 

  • By investing $1 trillion per year for 10 years, an economic renewal plan based on the THRIVE Agenda would create and sustain over 15 million good jobs — enough to end the unemployment crisis — while countering systemic racism, supporting public health, and cutting climate pollution nearly in half by 2030. That includes over 5 million jobs to upgrade our infrastructure for clean water and transportation, over 4 million jobs to expand renewable energy and energy efficiency, nearly 4 million jobs to restore our lands and support regenerative agriculture, and over 2 million jobs to invest in care for children and the elderly. 
  • These investments must come with ironclad labor and equity standards to curb racial, economic, and gender inequity instead of reinforcing the unjust status quo. Using the latest labor data, the report shows that without such standards, a stimulus package would create millions of non-union jobs for predominantly white men. Many of the target sectors for investment currently pay salaries 40 percent to 70 percent lower than the national average, offer union protections for as little as 3 percent of workers, and employ a disproportionately low number of Black and female workers. To counteract such systemic inequities and chart a path to a more just society, the economic recovery package must require strong wage and benefit standards, equitable hiring practices, and targeted investments in frontline communities. 
  • The report details the number of jobs that would be created from nearly 50 specific, broadly supported investment programs. For example, a single program to exchange gas guzzlers for affordable, clean electric vehicles would yield over 635,000 jobs — nearly the entire population of Detroit. Another 500,000 workers could be employed to upgrade public housing units, schools, hospitals, and low-income homes nationwide to support healthier living conditions, lower energy bills, and reduced pollution. Over 225,000 additional workers could get jobs in programs to protect our wetlands and forests and to restore polluted Superfund sites and abandoned coal mines, supporting communities from Appalachia to the industrial Midwest. The list goes on. 

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