Green Jobs Go 0-for-4

COMMENTARY Environment

Green Jobs Go 0-for-4

Nov 1st, 2012 2 min read
COMMENTARY BY

Former Senior Research Fellow, Labor Markets and Trade

David Kreutzer researched and wrote about labor markets and trade.

The Administration’s green jobs initiatives appear to be the Detroit Tigers of the policy world—they are 0-for-4 in the major reports on their success.

In the past year, there have been four reports on green jobs by the Department of Labor: two from the department’s inspector general’s office and two from the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

On September 30, 2011, the department’s inspector general issued a report titled, “Recovery Act: Slow Pace Placing Workers into Jobs Jeopardizes Employment Goals of the Green Jobs Program.” The title probably says enough, but here are a few points from the report:

  • Nearly three-fourths of the way through, only 61 percent of the target level of participants had even been signed up for training;
  • Job placement was only 10 percent of the target level; and
  • Participants who retained employment for at least six months met only 2 percent of the target level.

On October 12, 2012, the same inspector general’s office issued a follow-up report titled, “Recovery Act: Green Jobs Program Reports Limited Success in Meeting Employment and Retention Goals as ofJune 30, 2012.” Another discouraging title for another discouraging set of results:

  • More than 20 percent of certificates and degrees went to recipients who had only one day of training;
  • 47 percent of those completing the Green Jobs program received five or fewer days of training;
  • Grantees could not even document between 24 percent and 44 percent of the employment outcomes;
  • The number of trainees who entered employment was less than 40 percent of the target; and
  • 38 percent of those who did enter employment already had jobs before the training program.

In the interval between these two reports, the BLS produced two reports measuring the number of green jobs.

On March 22, 2012, the BLS issued a report in the form of a news release titled “Employment in Green Goods and Services—2010.” This report asserts that there were 3.1 million green jobs in theU.S. in 2010.

However, as we have noted (herehere, and here), this number is meaningless. For instance, according to the report, there were 33 times as many green jobs in the septic tank and portable toilet servicing industry as there are in solar electricity utilities—and more green jobs selling used merchandise (think the Salvation Army store) than in engineering services.

On June 29, 2012, the BLS released another report/news release, “Green Technologies and Practices—August 2011,” which also purported to show the number of green jobs. The methodology used found only 854,700 green jobs. To get some perspective on the uselessness of this count, we offer a quote from our previous analysis:

The single largest green job category is “janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners,” which had 56,700 green jobs. This is nearly 10 times as many green jobs as in “civil engineers,” which has the highest number of green jobs in the “architecture and engineering occupations” super category.

In closing, we offer an apology to the Detroit Tigers. Those disappointing last four losses came at the end of a fantastic, pennant-winning season. By comparison, the green jobs initiatives are whiffing at T-ball.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal