The Truth Behind Green Jobs


If green jobs were cost effective, industries and companies would have adopted them absent government prodding. They haven't because green technologies are usually more expensive than existing technologies, or they are untested, experimental, or unreliable, and thus they are by and large rejected by consumers in the marketplace, say H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow, and James Franko, a legislative assistant with the National Center for Policy Analysis. 

For instance, Spain was lauded by President Obama as a model for a new economy driven by green jobs. Yet Spain's example isn't one to be emulated if one is trying to boost employment, say Burnett and Franko: 

  • A 2009 study from Madrid's King Juan Carlos University found that for every green job the government "creates," 2.2 jobs are lost in competing industries or as factories lay off workers to cover the higher energy costs of the green technology.
  • In addition, only 10 percent of those green jobs were permanent with the average green job adding nearly $750,000 in costs to consumers' bills. 

Germany and Denmark have had similar green job experiences. Both countries are far ahead of the United States in forcing consumers to choose expensive green energy, says Burnett and Franko: 

  • In Germany, green job mandates increase the average consumer's electricity prices by 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour to for an average subsidy per green job created in the solar power industry of more than $240,000.
  • In Denmark, About 28,400 people were employed in the Danish wind industry, but only about 1 in 10 were new jobs - the remaining 90 percent were simply positions shifted from one industry to another.  

In the United States the story is the same.  In a Washington Post column, Sunil Sharan, director of the Smart Grid Initiative, pointed argued that green job initiatives will actually increase unemployment: 

  • Sharan estimated that President Obama's goal of increasing America's energy efficiency by installing 20 million smart meters in the next five years would create about 1,600 jobs.
  • Unfortunately, Sharan estimated that 28,000 jobs would be lost just among meter readers.  

Source: H. Sterling Burnett and James Franko, "The truth behind green jobs," Daily Caller, May 3, 2010. 

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