During a recent California Energy Commission proceeding on our clean energy goals, it was recommended that job creation be included as a metric for measuring the success of clean energy policies. This will only be meaningful if we count all the jobs that will be lost as a result of a policy. Therefore our job creation goal, and the metric to measure it, should only count net new jobs.
This prompted us to look at the Brookings Institution's recently released report on green jobs -- "Sizing the Clean Economy." The report stated that California leads the country in the "green" sector, boasting 332,000 jobs. To put things in perspective, that number accounts for only 2 percent of the state's entire job base and about one job for every 115 people. Further it doesn't make up for the state's overall jobs loss, nor does it make up for the state's high wage job losses.
Green job definitions vary widely, depending on who sets the criteria. For instance, the Brookings report maintains that public mass transit operators are in fact "green". Even with the broadest definitions, the green economy on its own will not catapult California into its next great economic boom. The emerging green sector is an important part of California’s overall economy, but will only grow and succeed if California’s investment climate is competitive with other states and nations.
California can’t count on large scale job growth without a predictable and competitive environment for a diverse range of investors and employers. "Green" mandates and subsidies increase costs and force reduced output on existing employers, making other parts of our economy inefficient and less competitive. That's a tough pill for existing employer groups to swallow when the goal of their sacrifice is to force feed a 2 percent sector of the workforce that can’t survive without ongoing incentives and subsidies.
We compared some of California's high wage sector employment statistics to the new green jobs numbers. Basically we found that our green jobs do not net out our losses. See nearby chart.
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Gino DiCaro is vice president of communications for the California Manufacturers and Technology Association (www.cmta.net).