NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Green Jobs Report: Less Than Meets the Eye

May 9, 2012

Cheerleaders of the president's green energy campaign emphasize a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report as evidence of the growth of green jobs.  Indeed, the report counts 3.1 million green jobs, 2.2 million of which are in the private sector.  However, the BLS study is disingenuous in its conclusions by taking advantage of an overly broad definition of "green jobs," says David Kreutzer, the research fellow in energy economics and climate change at the Heritage Foundation.

By defining "green goods and services" as those "produced by an establishment that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources," the 3.1-million figure is vague enough to include such occupations as trash collectors, bus drivers and Salvation Army employees.

Additionally, very few of those within this body of "green jobs" are engaged in the sector of power generation -- the quintessential green industry touted by the Obama administration that received enormous government subsidies and loans.

  • The electric power generation industry has 44,152 green jobs.
  • However, only 4,700 are in renewable power generation, including 2,200 in wind, 1,100 in biomass, 600 in geothermal and only 400 in solar.
  • These figures pale in comparison to the 35,755 green jobs made available by nuclear power -- an industry that has suffered immensely from the president's lack of support for Yucca Mountain.

On a similar note, the BLS report includes vast populations of workers that fall outside the traditional definition of workers touted by President Obama.

  • Steel mills, for example, were allowed to count some 43,658 jobs as "green" because the mills use scrap steel and are therefore classified as being active recyclers.
  • Additionally, 27 percent of all paper mill jobs are counted as green (30,473 jobs); this is the result of the use of recycled paper as an input.
  • Finally, merchandise stores, waste collection services, and school and employee bus transportation were each allowed to count 106,865, 116,293 and 160,896 jobs, respectively.

Thus, the BLS report has promulgated conclusions that are altogether misleading and unhelpful in attaining a true assessment of the president's push for green jobs.  Its definition is overly broad, and this allows for the inclusion of hundreds of thousands of jobs that the average voter would never consider "green."

Source: David W. Kreutzer, "BLS Green Jobs Report: Less Than Meets the Eye," Heritage Foundation, April 26, 2012.

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