In June of 2009, the Pew Charitable Trusts released its report on green jobs and the top states for green job creation. In announcing the report, they proclaimed “Pew Finds Clean Energy Economy Generates Significant Job Growth.” The report projected strong job growth for the states it identified as having the best climate for green jobs creation.
Two years later, how have those states fared? The results should offer lessons to policymakers and the President.
The top “green jobs” state in the nation, according to Pew, was Oregon. In March 2008, when unemployment began to take off, Oregon’s unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, slightly higher than the national average of 5.1 percent. Today, Oregon’s unemployment rate is 9.5 percent, higher than the nation’s 9.1 percent unemployment rate. Additionally, the gap between Oregon’s unemployment rate and the nation has increased.
Colorado is another state highlighted by Pew. In March of 2008, Colorado’s unemployment rate was nearly one percent below the national average, at 4.2 percent. Today, it is still lower than the national average, but the gap has narrowed to 0.6 percent. Despite the promise that green jobs would grow more quickly than other sectors, Colorado has seen a greater percentage increase in unemployment than the nation as a whole.
California was highlighted by Pew, not only for creating green jobs, but for having a favorable policy environment for green job creation. It’s unemployment rate currently stands at 12 percent. In March 2008, its unemployment rate was 1 percent higher than the national average. Today it is nearly 3 percent higher.
The President avoided promises to create new green jobs in his speech before Congress, in part due to the recent and dramatic failure of solar panel company Solyndra. Calling for more of the same after that dramatic failure would have been tone deaf. The left, however, is still counting on green jobs finding their way into the plan when it is actually implemented.
Before we look to spend billions more on green jobs, we should consider the poor results we’ve seen in the very states green jobs advocates themselves highlighted.