One of our goals at Restoration and Resilience is to offer a better analysis of green jobs potential from conservation work than past jobs multipliers have provided. To do this, we'll examine case studies of completed and proposed wetland restoration projects. Today we are presenting a post summarizing potential job creation from a restoration project in the Central Wetlands Unit, a degraded ecosystem just east of New Orleans. Bear in mind, we've relied on assumptions and estimates throughout our analysis, and we encourage you to send us feedback on our methods.
In a series of posts published over the last few weeks, we have examined how many jobs might be generated by rehabilitation of the Central Wetlands Unit. We envisioned a four-part program of dredging in fill material (described in the first and second posts in the series), piping in water (the third post), replanting cypress (the fourth post), and maintaining the ecosystem in its post-construction phase (the fifth post). Based on that, we arrived at estimates for job creation during each of the project's stages.
Our analysis was based on interviews with experienced professionals from construction companies, state agencies, non-profits, and universities. From these conversations, we drafted a model with various labor and material inputs. To convert this information into an estimate of direct jobs, we had to determine, for instance, how long it would take a crew of workers to construct a linear foot of pipeline, or how long it would take a set of landscapers to plant an acre of cypress seedlings.
We then used this information to estimate the full-time equivalent job-years required for each of the project’s four phases (dredging and site preparation, pipeline system construction, tree planting, and operations & maintenance (O&M)). Using job multipliers from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), we then estimated the number of indirect and induced job-years stemming from this project.
We arrived at a cumulative estimate of $72.02 million for the cost of restoring the Central Wetlands Unit, including ten years of O&M after the initial dredging, construction and planting phases. The total number of jobs created (as measured by 2,000 work-hour job-years) was 680.69, with 280.41 direct job-years and an additional 400.28 indirect and induced job-years stemming from the project. The cumulative employment/spending ratio (measured as jobs per budgeted $1 million) was 9.45 ≈ 680.69 / 72.02.
In our scenario, we found that labor costs accounted for about 9.5% of the total budget for the Central Wetlands Unit restoration. Within the respective phases, payroll as a percentage of total costs varied widely, from a low of 4.69% in the tree planting phase to a high of 36.21% in the dredging and site preparation stage of the project.
While we are confident in our work, we understand that there might have been debatable assumptions or methods employed in our analysis. To that end, we'll be addressing some of those issues in a "postscript" about the Central Wetlands Unit study later this week.
In the meantime, we're busy attending sessions at the Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference today in Washington, D.C. and staying abreast of the continuing crisis surrounding the Deepwater Horizon explosion on the Gulf Coast. As we mentioned last Friday, there is an immediate need for volunteers in the Mississippi River Delta to help with response to the oil spill, so please sign up today if you can help.