News Story

Trash Collectors Equal 'Green' Jobs? President's Campaign Ad Claims 'Green Energy' Job Growth From Criticized Study

Study's co-author: 'Frankly, I don't think the report really is all that encouraging about clean economy jobs'

Former Vice President Al Gore didn't invent the Internet, but apparently President Barack Obama wants voters to believe he created trash collectors and bus drivers.

His first campaign ad of 2012 uses claims made in a debunked study that counted such jobs to boost its “green energy” job count above 2 million.

The 30-second TV ad has been aired in six “battleground” states, including Michigan. Among other specious claims in the ad is one giving President Obama credit for 2.7 million “green energy” jobs nationally.

The source of this claim was a Brookings Institute study that made the rounds of the news media in the summer of 2011. Capitol Confidential examined the study in a July 31, 2011, article titled: “Media Loves 'Green Jobs' Report; Fine Print Shows 'Green' Means the Garbage Man.”

Of the 2.7 million alleged “green energy” jobs in the study, 736,663 were either in waste management or mass transit. In addition, the study never credited President Obama for creating any of the supposed jobs it had allegedly tabulated.

Jonathon Rothwell is senior research analyst for the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings and one of the authors of the study. He was asked last summer if observations in news media accounts of the study paint a more glowing picture of what the report said about the status of the nation's green jobs.

“I would say that we took a very cool, very reasonable approach in the study,” Rothwell said. “Frankly, I don't think the report really is all that encouraging about clean economy jobs."

According to the study, 386,116 of the so-called “cutting edge” jobs were in waste management and another 350,547 in mass transit. Even if the claims were legitimate, 2.7 million jobs would represent a very small fraction of the national workforce. The authors of the study bemoaned that fact that their trash and tram enhanced figures were so low. A large portion of the study included their suggestions on how to boost the numbers.

The ad is below.


Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.