NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Unseen Consequences of "Green Jobs"

February 15, 2011

In his State of the Union speech a couple of weeks ago, President Obama planned to "win the future" by, among many other things, having the federal government invest in clean energy technology.  But will investing in clean energy actually produce countless new jobs? asks Ronald Bailey, Reason's science correspondent.

A his new report, "Defining, Measuring, and Predicting Green Jobs," University of Texas economist Gürcan Gülen takes apart many studies predicting that policies mandating alternative energy production, energy efficiency and conservation will create a boom in employment.

  • Gülen points out that many pro-green jobs studies do not distinguish temporary construction jobs from more permanent operation jobs.
  • Many studies also assume that green jobs will pay more than jobs in conventional energy production.
  • In addition, many studies simultaneously count on protectionist policies to exclude clean energy imports while assuming that domestic companies will be freely exporting to other countries.

Even more disturbingly, many green job studies have no analyses of job losses.  Clean energy costs more than conventional energy, which means consumers and businesses will have less income with which to buy and invest.  This reduces their consumption of other goods and services, resulting in job losses in those sectors, says Bailey. 

Source: Ronald Bailey, "The Unseen Consequences of 'Green Jobs,'" Reason Magazine, February 8, 2011.

For text:

For study:


Browse more articles on Environment Issues