Monday, October 10, 2011

Green Jobs Brown Out

How to spend $157,000 per job 10/11/11

The green jobs subsidy story gets more embarrassing by the day. Three years ago President Obama promised that by the end of the decade America would have five million green jobs, but so far some $90 billion in government spending has delivered very few.

A new report by the Labor Department's Office of Inspector General examined a $500 million grant under the stimulus program to the Employment and Training Administration to "train and prepare individuals for careers in 'green jobs.'" So far about $162.8 million has been spent. The program was supposed to train 125,000 workers, but only 53,000 have been "trained" so far, only 8,035 have found jobs, and only 1,033 were still in the job after six months.

Overall, "only 10% of participants entered employment." In the understatement of the year, the IG says the program failed to "assist those most impacted by the recession."

The jobs record is even more dismal when you consider that many of the jobs classified as green aren't even new jobs, much less green, according to a report from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. They include positions that have been "relabeled as green jobs by the BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics]."

This means that bus drivers, Environmental Protection Agency regulators, university professors teaching ecology, and even the Washington lobbyists who secure energy loan guarantees count as green employees for the purposes of government counting. The Oversight Committee finds that even a charitable assessment of the Labor program puts the cost of each green job at $157,000.

The silver lining is that the IG found that as of "June 30, 2011, $327.3 million remained unexpended" from the Labor program's appropriation. The IG urges that all funds "determined not to be needed should be recouped as soon as practicable and to the extent permitted by law." That ought to be the deficit supercommittee's first $327 million in savings.

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