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A 'Green Job' Depends on the Meaning of 'Is"

The folks at the liberal/leftist Media Matters for America (MMfA) were happy to report on their blog, "(a) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report released Tuesday finds that green jobs grew four times faster in 2011* than jobs in other sectors, continuing a trend of rapid growth in the U.S. But Fox News is still pushing the narrative that investing in clean energy is a 'boondoggle.'" MMfA then added:

"This is not a new trend: the Brookings Institution previously found that the clean economy added half a million jobs between 2003 and 2010, and that clean tech jobs grew "more than twice as fast as the rest of the economy" during that period.

"As the Los Angeles Times noted, the recent growth in green jobs "parallels a surge in public and private money" invested in clean energy in 2011."

But how much of that should the public really believe? In an editorial posted yesterday, Investor's Business Daily (IBD) said the BLS report was just "another phony 'green jobs' report." The IBD editorial  explained it this way:

"It is chock full of charts claiming millions of new "green" jobs being produced by President Obama's efforts to heal the planet and lower the rising seas. But if you have the eyes and the patience to actually examine it, it is full of lies, damned lies and government statistics.

"The BLS defines green jobs as those that produce goods or services "that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources," or jobs "in which workers' duties involve making their establishment's production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources."

"Its report claims that such jobs account for 2.6% of all jobs in the economy, for a total just north of 3.4 million jobs.

"But buried in Table 3, "Green Goods And Services," we find under "Utilities" and "Electric power generation" a total of just 522 jobs for "solar electric power generation" and 2,724 jobs for "wind electric power generation" for a total of 3,246 jobs.

"Under the heading "coal and petroleum products mfg." we find 3,278 jobs. So even in the BLS list of "green" jobs, coal and oil wins.

"So what about the "millions" of other "green" jobs claimed? The problem is in that definition.
The bureau includes clothing stores, television and radio broadcasters, and office furniture manufacturers among the country's green industries."

As David Kreutzer said at the Heritage Foundation's blog today, The Foundry, so-called green advocates wouldn't be "gushing" about the BLS report "if they actually read past the first page." He added:

"As we have noted (here, here, here, and here), the BLS definition of green jobs is so bizarre that the total counts are meaningless. (links in the original)

"For instance, according to the BLS, the septic-tank and portable-toilet servicing industry has nearly three times as many green jobs as are in the solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass power utilities combined. Not only that, but the lead appears to be widening. There has been some mucking around with the definitions, but compared to the total from last year’s report, the renewable utilities green job count rose by 1,129, while those in the septic-tank and related services industry grew by 1,599 jobs.

"The new study will also tell the careful reader (almost all the fun stuff is in Table 3) that not only are there more than three times as many green jobs in trash collecting as there are in scientific research and development services, but the increase in green trash collecting employment outpaced the green employment increase in the scientific R&D services by nearly 3,700 jobs." (emphasis added)

And at the Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, former chief economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics further explains:

"America can boast only 500 green jobs in solar electric power generation, but 886,000 green jobs in government — many for passage of environmental laws, enforcement of environmental regulations, and administration of environmental programs, according to the new count of green jobs for 2011 released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this week."

She also noted that with the resignation of Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, and with the budget sequester in place, "BLS is discontinuing the survey, saving $8 million."

So it seems there is not a whole lot of green in a "green job."


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