Politicians always have great ideas on how to spend taxpayer money. One of the latest fads is “green jobs.” The main idea is the country needs to have some greater level of “energy independence” from volatile foreign markets, and non-fossil fuel energy is the wave of the future.
All of this may be so, but a new report from an assistant inspector general of the Department of Labor concludes the half billion dollars spent on training people for jobs in the “green” energy industry failed.
Diana Furchtgott-Roth at RealClearMarkets writes:
Assistant Inspector General Elliot Lewis wrote that of the $500 million authorized in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the stimulus bill) for green jobs training programs, $329 million was spent by June 30, 2012. Of the 113,000 people who participated in the green jobs training programs, 72 percent have completed training; 27 percent of participants got a job; 22 percent of participants got a job relating to their training; and 10 percent kept their jobs for at least six months.
By the Labor Department’s own benchmarks, the program failed to achieve its goals:
It’s clear that by the Labor Department’s original criteria the program did not meet its original goals. The number of people who retained employment 6 months or more, 11,613, represents 16 percent of the Department’s target of 71,017 jobs retained.
Jobs-training programs have noble intentions, but government very rarely pulls them off well. There are all sorts of reasons for this, the first of which is government has a hard time knowing what goods and services people will demand. When no one buys a product, the investment in that product must be repurposed for something people will buy.
Green energy may be the wave of the future, but investing in it now–especially for political reasons–just doesn’t seem to make much sense.