Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Over $1.4 Million Per Job, to Date

***Understatement Alert!!***

"Seattle green jobs program falls short of goals".

Last year, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced the city had won a coveted $20 million federal grant to invest in weatherization. The unglamorous work of insulating crawl spaces and attics had emerged as a silver bullet in a bleak economy - able to create jobs and shrink carbon footprint - and the announcement came with great fanfare.

McGinn had joined Vice President Joe Biden in the White House to make it. It came on the eve of Earth Day. It had heady goals: creating 2,000 living-wage jobs in Seattle and retrofitting 2,000 homes in poorer neighborhoods.

Well, I'm going to be brutally honest here... I think that their stated goal of weatherizing a mere 2,000 homes with the whopping $20 million was (how shall I put this?) pathetic.  That's $10,000 per home, and that's ridiculous (imnsho).  I don't believe it should cost that much to insulate a single home-- particularly a home in a "poorer neighborhood", which one assumes would most likely be modestly sized.  However, from the headline, we know that they didn't even manage to do that.

(Also, should it really take 2,000 people to weatherize 2,000 homes?  You're obviously not going to have all the projects going on at the same time, and it shouldn't take a crew of capable workers that long to complete one project and move on to the next.  I'll admit I'm no business genius or construction know-it-all, but that sounds like more people/jobs than would be required for the task, does it not?)

So... How many houses do you think they were able to "weatherize"?  Three quarters of their goal?  Half?  Even a measly one quarter?

But more than a year later, Seattle's numbers are lackluster. As of last week, only three homes had been retrofitted and just 14 new jobs have emerged from the program. Many of the jobs are administrative, and not the entry-level pathways once dreamed of for low-income workers.

Only three homes.  Fourteen new jobs (many of which are administrative-- so surprising, considering that this is the government we're talking about).  In over a year.  (The article goes on to explain how and why local officials are cautiously optimistic, blah blah blah.)

Wouldn't it be nice if this kind of inefficiency and waste were rare enough to be genuinely surprising?