Graduates Chase Green Jobs

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Colleges and universities are promising graduates “green jobs” at the end of their education, secure in the knowledge that if they fail to materialize, schools won’t be liable for damages under Truth in Advertising laws.

Google the phrase “college programs for green jobs” and you get more than four million results. “Green Jobs are a growth industry,” the University of Maryland promises in a recent advertisement. “Today’s fastest growing job opportunities are green.”

“Companies need professionals who can improve corporate safety, efficiency and compliance with government regulations. Be ready, with a bachelor’s or master’s degree or a certificate in environmental management from University of Maryland University College (UMUC).”

Note the way they dangle the master’s program, just in case a bachelor’s or certificate don’t get you in the door. Yet the door you are trying to get a foot in may not be the only opening that is hard to find.

“A report delivered by the Council of Economic Advisers today found that the clean energy investments of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) are not only creating jobs today, but for the future,” Heather Zichal asserted in a White House blog on January 14, 2010. “The clean energy provisions of ARRA alone have already saved or created 63,000 jobs and are expected to create more than 700,000 by 2012.” Zichal is Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.

“Yes, but getting these jobs is burning a hole in the national wallet,” Sean Higgins wrote in an Investor’s Business Daily blog on Jan. 08, 2010. “The problem is that even advocates like Obama concede that these programs are not very cost-effective in creating jobs.”

“Obama says the grants will create 17,000 cleantech jobs. Well, get out your calculator. $2.3 billion for 17,000 jobs equals $135,294 per job. (And that’s not including the eventual interest on this deficit spending). Those green jobs had better pay well over six figures to justify that expense.”

“Not to worry, the administration has a plan to solve this, too. It wants Congress to approve another $5 billion for ‘tens of thousands’ more green jobs.” But that was before one House of Congress changed hands.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is still looking for the green jobs. “The goal of the BLS green jobs initiative is to develop information on (1) the number of and trend over time in green jobs, (2) the industrial, occupational, and geographic distribution of the jobs, and (3) the wages of the workers in these jobs,” the federal agency website claims. “The resulting information will be useful for evaluating policy initiatives and the labor market impact of economic activity related to protecting the environment and conserving natural resources.”

“BLS activities also will be useful to State labor market information offices in their efforts to meet the information needs of policymakers, businesses, and job seekers.” Note the use of the future tense.

The evidence on private sector jobs lost when green jobs are gained is scant but available. Thus far in Spain and Newton, Iowa, locals found that the economy lost two private sector jobs for every green job gained.

“According to one study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, the Spanish

government has created jobs at the rate of $775,000 per job with subsidies, more than twice the estimated amount for job creation through private industry investment ($350,000 per job),” Ditley Engel and Daniel M. Kammen admit in their study for the Copenhagen Climate Council. “However, neither green job studies nor their critiques typically in­clude avoided environmental costs or other potential benefits (less imported fossil fuel, reduced health care costs, etc.) that would favor green job programs.”


“ Longer-term costs are difficult to quan­tify with uncertainties in their magnitude, attribution and timing but have the prospect for catastrophic irremediable damages.” Engel, the CEO at Vestas Wind Systems, and Kammen, a professor at Berkeley would be interesting to contact when college graduates face Future Shock in the job market.

“A major example of this dilemma occurred in Newton, Iowa, where President Obama visited on Earth Day to tout green jobs at a new wind turbine plant,” Sens. James Inhofe, R-OK, and Kit Bond, R-MO., reported on April 27, 2009. “During the visit, the President noted that new green jobs replaced manufacturing jobs where a Maytag plant closed.”

“However, he did not mention that only 700 jobs paying $13 per hour replaced the 1,800 jobs paying $20 an hour plus health care.” Sens. Inhofe and Bond both serve on the U. S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail