Green Jobs More Hype Than Hope

NCPA Expert Says Subsidized Green Job Creation will Cost More Jobs than It Creates

Dallas - A big supporter of green jobs, President Obama has regularly touted legislation containing provisions to subsidize green job creation. Unfortunately, there is growing evidence that government support of green industries will cost more jobs than it creates, according to a new analysis by the National Center for Policy Analysis.

"The Obama administration is not considering the major consequences that could result from government spending on green jobs, such as the loss of non-green employment in other sectors of the economy," said H. Sterling Burnett, NCPA Senior Fellow and co-author of the analysis.

President Obama has identified Spain and Denmark as having benefited from subsidized green job creation. However, in Spain, a 2009 study from Madrid's King Juan Carlos University showed that for every green job the Spanish government created, 2.2 jobs were lost as energy-intensive industries closed down or moved to other countries with lower energy costs:

  • The government's green job push created approximately 50,000 jobs, but resulted in a loss of more than 110,000 jobs in other industries.
  • Only 1 in 10 of the new green jobs was permanent
  • Each green job created since 2000 has required about $774,000 in government subsidies.

Like Spain, Denmark's green industry, which is primarily wind-powered electricity generation, was heavily subsidized and likely would not have existed without government support. A 2009 report by the Center for Political Studies states that the Danish government spent between $90,000 and $140,000 to create each wind job. But of the 28,400 people that were employed in the Danish wind industry, 1 in 10 were new jobs - the remaining 90 percent were positions shifted from one industry to another.

President Obama said the stimulus bill of 2009 would create millions of green jobs. The bill has produced few, if any green jobs so far, Burnett said. The stimulus bill set a goal of installing 20 million smart meters in the next five years. The director of the Smart Grid Initiative estimates that 28,000 jobs will be lost among meter readers alone, and countless others will also lose their jobs, as employees will no longer be needed for such tasks as inputting meter readings at the office.

"Improvements tested by competition, rather than subsidized by the government, will ensure that the energy produced will be cleaner and more efficient," said James Franco, NCPA legislative assistant and co-author of the analysis. "That being said, green technologies are not a force for short-term job creation."

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