News Story

Environmental Group Praises Michigan For Press Releases About 'Green Jobs'

Past job claims rarely came to fruition

While job creation can be a badge of honor for many politicians, a report praising Michigan for adding "green jobs" is a bit premature.

Environmental Entrepreneurs, which describes itself as "a national community of business leaders who promote sound environmental policy that builds economic prosperity," released a recent report that stated, “Michigan ranks third in clean energy and clean transportation jobs announced in second quarter.”

The news made the rounds on social media and the announcement was re-Tweeted by former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

The report, however, is not based on actual jobs created. It’s based on jobs “announced” by companies in press releases.

Environmental Entrepreneurs claims Michigan created "1,450 clean energy and clean transportation jobs" that were announced between April and June, of 2014, placing the state behind first-place Arizona and second-place California.

Jeff Benzak, spokesman for Environmental Entrepreneurs, said the company does not follow up with every company directly to confirm that announced jobs eventually match job creation.

“However, should news reports, press releases, etc., down the line report on the total number of hires, we do update our database accordingly,” Benzak said. “On some occasions, not all of the jobs we track come to fruition, and we make that change. On other occasions, the project is expanded and more jobs are added, and we make that change as well.”

Michigan has a well-documented history of problems with press release economics, especially in the field of alternative energy.

Four of the country’s biggest green energy companies that filed for bankruptcy had operations in Michigan.

The most spectacular failure in Michigan was A123 Systems, which Sen. Carl Levin and U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu had predicted would create thousands of jobs in 2010. Instead, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2012. The Michigan Economic Development Corp. stated the company had 844 full-time employees at its Livonia battery plant weeks before A123 Systems filed for bankruptcy.

In 2010, MIRS News broke down the MEDC's job claims in press releases under Gov. Granholm's tenure.

The MEDC claimed credit for 1.4 million direct, retained and indirect jobs that would have accounted for 29 percent of the state’s labor force at that time. MIRS found that the MEDC had claimed credit for creating 204,818 jobs since 2003. But a report from Michigan's Auditor General found that just 28 percent of the new jobs the MEDC projected actually materialized.

“People should take these rankings with a grain of salt,” said James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. “As we have seen in Michigan’s programs, press releases rarely translate into actual jobs.”

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.