A recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report counts 3.1 million green jobs in the U.S. economy, but the BLS defines these jobs so broadly that it includes even school bus drivers and trash collectors as “green” workers.
“Cheerleaders for the president’s program of green jobs mandates and spending point to the study as confirmation of green jobs’ economic importance,” said David W. Kreutzer, Research Fellow in Energy Economics and Climate Change in the Center for Data Analysis at The Heritage Foundation.
Kreutzer takes issue with the report as “an effort to count the number of green jobs as a way of justifying subsidies and mandates.”
“Just a little digging into the data shows that only a small fraction of the 3.1 million jobs could have been created by green subsidies and mandates.”
The BLS study defines green jobs as those “in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources.”
Using this definition, the BLS counts 43,658 jobs in steel mills as green because the industry uses scrap steel and can be classified as an active recycler.
Similarly, 27 percent of all paper mill jobs, 30,473, are counted as green because mills use recycled paper.
Steel and paper mill jobs “do not fit in with the rhetoric of the new, clean economy that green jobs proponents use to justify expensive green policies — the sort of policies that brought the Solyndra debacle,” Kreutzer writes in the Heritage Foundation report.
The electric power generation industry is said to have 44,152 green jobs, but only 4,700 are in renewable power generation.
The nuclear power industry has 35,755 green jobs, according to the BLS, but since no new plants have been built in the past 30 years, those jobs “are clearly not the result of any green energy or green jobs programs,” Kreutzer points out.
Other jobs considered to be green by the BLS include those in used merchandise stores (106,865 jobs), waste collection (116,293), school and employee bus transportation (160,896), leisure and hospitality (22,510), office furniture sales (14,888), septic tank cleaning and portable toilet servicing (13,313), radio and television broadcasting (9,297), fruit and tree nut farming (12,176), and social advocacy organizations (20,704).
Kreutzer concludes that the BLS’s “definition and collection mechanisms raise serious questions about how green those jobs are and whether their count can be a useful measure of the importance of green jobs in America’s economy and the effectiveness of green jobs policies.”