Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Facts on Green Jobs

On Aug. 19, The Bay Citizen published an article I wrote on the clean economy, "Green Jobs Predictions Proving a Pipe Dream."

The piece, which also ran in the Bay Area pages of The New York Times under the headline "Number of Green Jobs Fails to Live Up to Promises," has drawn strong criticism from both opponents and supporters of green jobs initiatives.

Environmentalists and their allies have argued that I ignored “explosive” job gains in the clean economy, while critics have used the story to argue that taxpayers get nothing in exchange for significant government investment in the green economy.

Given the intensity of the response, I wanted to detail some of the reporting behind the piece, which was an effort to survey the actual number of green jobs being created, and compare it to promises made by politicians about growth in the sector.

I used as benchmarks assurances made by politicians, chiefly President Barack Obama’s 2008 promise to create “5 million new green jobs” and California Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2010 pledge to create 500,000, both over 10 years.

In the course of reporting my story, I spoke to dozens of people: government officials, business leaders, marketing consultants, union representatives, advocates, and fellows at think tanks. I visited job-training sites, interviewed workers employed in the field and collected data from multiple sources in an effort to ascertain the extent to which the green economy was a jobs engine in the Bay Area.

In the end, my reporting found that — so far — job growth in the green jobs sector has been less than what politicians hoped for.

One of the reports I cited was the Brookings Institution’s July 2011 report, “Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment,” which is one of the most comprehensive independent reports on the subject to date.

Read more here

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