The Government Accountability Office has examined the half-billion dollars spent by the Department of Labor received to create green jobs since the 2009 Recovery Act. The results are less than stellar, to say the least.
Walter Russell Mead has the details:
The GAO was careful to note that their assessment wasn’t exhaustive; it lacks data for roughly 40 percent of its grantees. But from the data it does have, the GAO found that final job placements were a dismal 55 percent of their targets. The GAO explains that “training programs were initiated prior to a full assessment of the demand for green jobs, which presented challenges for grantees.” Challenges like: how to create a job out of thin air. The Department of Labor had a federal mandate to push these training programs out as quickly as possible, states were just getting around to gathering information on the green labor market, and defining exactly what a green job was.
All of the grantees interviewed by the GAO “broadly interpreted Labor’s green jobs definitional framework to include as green any job that could be linked, directly or indirectly, to a beneficial environmental outcome.” That’s a very wide net to cast. As the GAO notes, one could call an air conditioner technician a green worker because some of the time that person could be installing high-efficiency systems, even if most of that technicians customers have energy-hogging systems.
This broad definition also pokes holes in Obama’s campaign promises of millions of new green jobs. It’s all well and good to green existing jobs—teach new techniques, incorporate better, more efficient technology, etc.—but that doesn’t add new jobs to the labor market.