Keystone Research Center Applauds Sen. Casey’s Historic Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Proposal

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Contact: Kirstin Snow; snow@pennbpc.org; 215.510.9336

July 22, 2021

Bill Would Deliver Triple Bottom Line Payoff in Jobs, Economic Justice, & Climate

Harrisburg, PAThe Keystone Research Center today applauded the public release of the historic “REVIVE the CCC Act of 2021” by Pennsylvania senator Robert P. Casey Jr. and called for its full funding in federal infrastructure legislation.

“Like FDR’s New Deal CCC, Senator Casey’s bill is a visionary response to extraordinary challenges—high joblessness, racial and environmental injustice, and climate change,” said KRC economist and executive director Stephen Herzenberg. He added, “It can help restore opportunity and hope to Pennsylvania, Appalachia, and our entire country.”

The idea of reviving the 1930s CCC has been bubbling up in U.S. policy circles for several years, initially out of fear that artificial intelligence and robots would displace millions of workers and warrant public job creation. In the last 15 months, policymakers and advocates have rallied to revive the CCC because of the COVID-19 recession and the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions, including by planting trees and other land restoration that absorbs carbon. The ReImagine Appalachia campaign, which KRC and many partners launched last year, has championed the idea, engaging extensively with Sen. Casey in the development of his bill. (See this video of yesterday’s Atlantic Council event on CCC with Sen. Casey; this video of a ReImagine townhall with Senator Casey moderated by KRC, and this ReImagine white paper on a new CCC and regenerative agriculture.)

“Senator Casey’s proposal is distinguished by its breadth and ambition—it steps up to today’s challenges,” added Herzenberg. Innovative features include:

  • targeting returning citizens for jobs and pathways that provide living-wage careers in conservation and the trades;
  • investing in environmental justice areas to reduce environmental hazards, improve air and water quality, and/or enhance recreational areas and access to healthy food; and
  • providing a labor force for private farmers that adopt more regenerative practices that improve soil health.

Sen. Casey’s revived CCC would also undertake tree-planting, land restoration, and infrastructure projects in parks and forests like the original CCC—cherished projects that live on and still today improve quality of life and conservation for tens of millions of Americans. Over the course of a decade, the 1930s CCC employed 3 million people, the equivalent of 10 million today (since the U.S. workforce has more than tripled).

The U.S. labor market still needs the big injection of job creation a CCC could provide. The U.S. remains 6.8 million jobs short of the February 2020 number and Pennsylvania behind 425,000 jobs. Longer-term, there has been a big drop off in the share of prime-age men, 25-54 years old, who are employed. We need another 5 million-plus jobs to restore the prime-age male employment-to-population ratios to the level of the 1960s. A study by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) for ReImagine Appalachia (summarized here) estimates that a generously funded CCC today could create 57,000 jobs in Pennsylvania.

“In Pennsylvania, Appalachia, and across the United States,” added Herzenberg, “CCC pathways to living-wage careers in climate response and other outdoor work could provide a literal lifeline to many, a chance to contribute and a reason for renewed optimism about the future.”

 

 

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