NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Obama's "Green Jobs" Have Been Slow to Sprout

April 20, 2012

In targeting President Obama's campaign for green energy, Republicans have often employed the example provided by now-bankrupt Solyndra as the embodiment of wasteful spending.  But new information regarding the broad impacts of the green energy stimulus suggests that the problems in the sector are much more far-reaching than a single company, says Reuters.

First, the push to put unemployed workers in the green energy sector through government-provided job training has largely fallen flat.

  • A $500 million job-training program has so far helped fewer than 20,000 people find work.
  • The program's initial results were so poor that the Labor Department's inspector general recommended last fall that the agency should return the $327 million that remained unspent.
  • Janet Blumen, the head of the Foundation for an Independent Tomorrow, a Las Vegas job-training organization, points out that he has seen traditional remain unfilled because unemployed workers have been ushered into green jobs.

Second, aggregate employment statistics for the sector, by almost any institution's measure, have fallen far short of Obama's promises.

  • On the campaign trail in 2008, Obama promised that a $150 billion investment would generate 5 million jobs over 10 years.
  • In December 2009, Vice President Joe Biden said the $90 billion dollars that were earmarked for clean-energy efforts in the federal stimulus package would create 722,000 green jobs.
  • But by the White House's own admission in November 2010, its clean-energy efforts had generated work for only 225,000 people.
  • Third parties have pegged the figure to be much smaller.
  • This poor performance has occurred despite significant production gains in solar and wind energy.

Third and finally, the kinds of investments made in the stimulus green energy push, even if they prove successful, are not likely to yield benefits for many years.

Source: Andy Sullivan, "Analysis: Obama's 'Green Jobs' Have Been Slow to Sprout," Reuters, April 13, 2012.

For text:


Browse more articles on Environment Issues