NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Number of Green Jobs Fails to Live Up to Promises

August 30, 2011

In the Bay Area, as in much of the country, the green economy is not proving to be the job-creation engine that many politicians envisioned.  President Obama once pledged to create 5 million green jobs over 10 years.  California Gov. Jerry Brown promised 500,000 clean-technology jobs statewide by the end of the decade.  But the results so far suggest such numbers are a pipe dream, says the New York Times.

A study released in July by the Brookings Institution found clean-technology jobs accounted for just 2 percent of employment nationwide and only slightly more -- 2.2 percent -- in Silicon Valley.  Rather than adding jobs, the study found, the sector actually lost 492 positions from 2003 to 2010 in the South Bay, where the unemployment rate in June was 10.5 percent.

  • Two years after it was awarded $186 million in federal stimulus money to weatherize drafty homes, California has spent only a little over half that sum.
  • The state has so far created the equivalent of just 538 full-time jobs in the last quarter, according to the State Department of Community Services and Development.
  • The weatherization program was initially delayed for seven months while the U.S. Department of Labor determined prevailing wage standards for the industry.
  • Even after that issue was resolved, the program never really caught on.

"The demand's just not there to take this to scale," says Fred Lucero, project manager at Richmond BUILD, which teaches students the basics of carpentry and electrical work in addition to specifically "green" trades like solar installation.

Source: Aaron Glantz, "Number of Green Jobs Fails to Live Up to Promises," New York Times, August 23, 2011.

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