The bureaucracy’s analysis of green jobs leaves a lot to be desired.
No, really. Like a million monkeys pounding on keyboards, even the Beltway occasionally produces something Shakespearean, and fortunate indeed we are to be alive in the summer of 2013, as the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued a report announcing that the "[Department of] Labor's Green Jobs Efforts Highlight Challenges of Targeted Training Programs for Emerging Industries."
B-O-R-I-N-G, you say? You are oh, so wrong. GAO was happy to translate that bureaucratese right up front: "Of the $595 million identified by Labor as having been appropriated or allocated specifically for green jobs activities since 2009, approximately $501 million went toward efforts with training and support services as their primary objective..."
Yes, I quoted that correctly: of the $595 million, over 84 percent was spent on "training and support services" rather than actual employment. A cynic would ask whether those employed in the provision of "training and support services" constitute the remaining 16 percent, thus transforming federal "green jobs" efforts into a permanent exercise in tail-chasing. But I am not a cynic, and I refuse to engage in the kind of mudslinging that has made the modern policy environment so toxic. I insist that we stick to the issue. Let us review what kinds of employment are viewed by the feds as "green," and then examine a few numbers before turning to the question of whether "green jobs" programs can expand employment significantly even in principle.
Benjamin Zycher is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.