Meanwhile, a number of decaying cities could use more direct federal funding for initiatives such as environmental cleanup projects or wholesale transformations of former industrial sites. One such project, in Buffalo, N.Y., recently created 400 or so new jobs. "The EPA has a $250,000 cap on funding for individual cleanup projects," explained Byron Brown, mayor of Buffalo, and who is among a handful of local mayors and civic leaders set to host follow-up job summits next week. "One thing that can easily be done right now is to remove the cap or raise it significantly." Brown advocates funneling TARP money to agencies such as the EPA, as well as directly to cities such as Buffalo to be used for things like urban redevelopment and historic preservation projects.
Congress just passed another round of unemployment benefits extensions last month – extending them by 20 weeks in states hardest hit by the economic downturn and by 14 weeks everywhere else – yet, some policy watchers are calling for even further extensions.
Gus Faucher, the director of macroeconomics at Moody's Economy.com, notes that the latest extension won't cover people who lose their jobs in 2010. As a result, they will be stuck with traditional benefit limits. Providing more people with more unemployment insurance, he said, will keep them spending – an important facet of economic recovery and more job growth. "We are seeing consumer spending start to improve," Faucher said. "If that continues, we will see job growth in industries like retail, food service, transportation, distribution and wholesaling." Unemployment checks aren't going to turn the economic tide, but as Faucher points out, "if people don't have that money, they won't be spending anything."
Look no further than the flatlands of West Texas when wrestling with the jobs creation question. For the answer there may be blowing in the wind. From building a new power delivery infrastructure and grids, to the manufacturing of wind turbines, there are plenty of opportunities to create jobs within the wind power industry and clearing its path should be high priority, says billionaire entrepreneur Sam Wyly. "If other states followed the lead of Texas, especially in the middle of the country, here is an industry where literally the sky is the limit," noted Wyly, the Dallas-based founder of Green Mountain Energy and the author of "$1,000 Dollars and an Idea" (Newmarket Press). Wyly, a pal of alternative energy proponent and fellow Texas tycoon T. Boone Pickens, is a major supporter of tax incentives for wind energy companies and for a federal program to secure land rights for wind farms.
The liberal leaning Economic Policy Institute advocates for more spending on government "safety net" programs, such as food stamps. But exactly how does helping people buy more food help the country gain more jobs?
EPI labor economist Heidi Shierholz said that, as with unemployment insurance extension, providing Americans the means with which to buy more groceries will help stimulate consumer spending.
"That money is immediately spent on the local economy on food," she said. "If that person that receives that food stamp is then buying something that they wouldn't be able to buy otherwise, that saves the job of the checkout person who works at the grocery store they went to. That person has wages to spend on their necessities."