The Dirty Secret behind Clean Jobs

Politicians have shifted their focus from the threats posed by global warming to creating green jobs. Under the guise of creating a "clean energy" market, political leaders can claim they are "investing" in the economy, creating new jobs and saving the planet, say Nick Sibilla, a research assistant, and Todd Wynn, vice president, at the Cascade Policy Institute.

This rebranded version of the climate change strategy into a jobs creation approach is flawed for several reasons.

The term "green jobs" is a vague and vacuous concept. Indeed, in some states, employers define what jobs are "green" in self-reporting surveys without any independent verification.

The push to subsidise green jobs is based on faulty economics.

  • The green economy is much more capital intensive than other sectors of the economy; the same amount of capital that creates one job in the clean sector would create more jobs in the industry or the economy in general.

  • Additionally, more workers employed means higher labour costs, which translates to higher prices for energy consumers, higher prices for products made from energy, and taxpayer dollars being siphoned out from potentially more efficient private sector production into inefficient green industries.

  • Meanwhile, efficiency delivers lower costs, which in turn advances Americans' standard of living.

    Assumptions for job growth are inaccurate or downright false.

  • Some of this growth in green job creation might not even be new jobs.

  • For example, some of the green jobs recently created in Oregon are simply jobs shifted from other sectors, or current employees with new green responsibilities.

    In the end, environmentalists should not base their calls to action on specious claims of job creation. Additionally, too many clean jobs depend on government largess for their existence, with the largest sectors of the clean economy being either state employees or recipients of corporate welfare. This folly of investing in clean jobs to induce growth is best symbolised by the case of a city on the verge of bankruptcy, say Sibilla and Wynn.

    Source: Nick Sibilla and Todd Wynn, The Dirty Secret behind Clean Jobs, Cascade Policy Institute, August 2011.

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    First published by the National Center for Policy Analysis, United States

    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 06 September 2011
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