Remember all the Green Jobs in our New Green Economy?

In the first four years of the Obama Administration, the Department of Labor spent $595 million training workers for the New Green Economy that President Obama promised. A recent Washington Post article (“Why it’s hard for the government to create green jobs“, July 21, 2013) says:


Four years later, it’s still not clear what all the cash for green jobs achieved–and a Government Accountability Office report issued last week illustrates the difficulty of trying to foster an emerging industry by pumping money into it.

No kidding. It’s not clear because the GAO report assiduously avoids an analysis of how many jobs were created, how many workers were trained and how effectively Labor spent taxpayer dollars.

One thing the GAO does have is a rather — *ahem!* — liberal interpretation of what constitutes a green job.

Listed below are some of the actual jobs considered “green” by DOL “grantees”, the unions, non-profit organizations and government agencies that have taken on the noble task of training this new cadre of green worker. Below each, I have included an interpretation of what those job classifications might be called in the real economy:

  • concrete pourer on a wind-turbine project site

A laborer or maybe a concrete finisher.

  • operator driving heavy machinery on a public rail project

In other words, a backhoe operator.

  • plumber installing low-flow toilets and water saving fixtures

That would be what we call a “plumber” around here.

  • worker trained to apply paint in a manner that reduces waste and toxic emissions

Um. Painter.

  • electrician installing energy-efficient lighting controls


  • emergency medical technician trained to perform rescues on wind turbine towers

Awww, now they’re just messing with me.

The GAO’s study contains a bunch of mealy-mouthed statistics, like this:

Analysis of grantees with final outcome data shows they collectively reported training slightly more individuals than they had projected, but job placements were at 55 percent of the target.

The GAO’s study fails to say anything really meaningful, like:

The expenditure of $595 million of your hard-earned taxpayer dollars resulted in X million workers trained and Y million new jobs, at a cost of $XXXXXXX per worker and $YYYYYYY per job.

GAO’s focus is on how many programs Labor funded, not on how many workers were trained, how many jobs were created, or how effectively the money was spent. You’d think you’d get that kind of analysis from them. They are accountants, after all.

Wait. Do you think their jobs qualify as green jobs?



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