Green Job Efforts Kill 2.2 for Every One Created

Published July 1, 2009

Gabriel Calzada, author of the “green jobs” study reported here, presented his findings at the Third International Conference on Climate Change in Washington, DC on June 2. His remarks are available online at

The Spanish government’s renewable energy initiatives have destroyed 2.2 jobs for every new “green” job created, concludes a new study by economics professor Gabriel Calzada of King Juan Carlos University in Madrid.

Calzada says American jobs will suffer the same fate if the United States similarly attempts to promote renewable energy at the expense of conventional energy sources.

What Price Green Jobs?

Writing in “Study of the Effects on Employment of Public Aid to Renewable Energy Sources,” Calzada reports:

“As President Obama correctly remarked, Spain provides a reference for the establishment of government aid to renewable energy. No other country has given such broad support to the construction and production of electricity through renewable sources. The arguments for Spain’s and Europe’s ‘green jobs’ schemes are the same arguments now made in the U.S., principally that massive public support would produce large numbers of green jobs. The question that this paper answers is ‘at what price?’

“Optimistically treating European Commission partially funded data, we find that for every renewable energy job that the State manages to finance, Spain’s experience cited by President Obama as a model reveals with high confidence, by two different methods, that the U.S. should expect a loss of at least 2.2 jobs on average, or about 9 jobs lost for every 4 created.”

Wealth Destruction

The more than two-to-one cost paid in conventional jobs to create a single green job came as little surprise to Dr. E. Calvin Beisner, national spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, a coalition of religious leaders and scientists concerned about environmental issues.

“Calzada’s study stunningly quantifies the actual result of ‘green jobs’ programs in Spain: 2.2 jobs destroyed for every one job created,” Beisner said. “That should be no surprise to anyone with the most elementary understanding of economics. Ventures that create wealth attract private investment by offering profit. Ventures that can only get investment by force of law don’t create wealth—they destroy it.

“Creating jobs to create wealth makes sense; creating them to destroy it doesn’t. ‘Green jobs’ programs destroy both wealth and the other jobs that wealth could have supported,” Beisner continued.

Counterproductive Investments

“Europe’s current policy and strategy for supporting the so-called ‘green jobs’ or renewable energy dates back to 1997, and has become one of the principal justifications for U.S. ‘green jobs’ proposals,” Calzada writes. “Yet an examination of Europe’s experience reveals these policies to be terribly economically counterproductive.”

Calzada goes on to observe, “The study’s results demonstrate how such ‘green jobs’ policy clearly hinders Spain’s way out of the current economic crisis, even while U.S. politicians insist that rushing into such a scheme will ease their own emergence from the turmoil,” reports Calzada.

Touted Benefits Ignore Costs

Jon Sanders, a policy analyst and research editor at the John Locke Foundation, believes Calzada’s report has helped move the debate away from looking solely at the benefits of “green jobs” toward also examining their costs.

“The study highlights what should be a consideration in every proposed government policy: The costs, not just the benefits,” Sanders said. “President Obama has been pushing essentially a free-lunch approach in budgeting, and his comments about the economic benefits of jump-starting ‘green jobs’ have been especially one-sided. When the government takes resources from people and tips the scales in favor of one industry over others, there will necessarily be job losses not only in the competing industries but also in the overall economy from the lesser economic activity.

“The public should know about those costs as well as the obvious benefits to ‘green energy’ corporations and their workers, so that they can decide whether the policy is worthwhile,” Sanders added.

Weak Economy Adds Concern

Sanders is further concerned about the meaning behind Obama’s silence regarding this report and other expressed concerns about a press for green jobs further weakening the U.S. economy.

“Calzada’s study is especially devastating in that President Obama looks to Spain’s policy as a model for the United States. A policy that kills more than twice the jobs it creates and that raises energy prices, which is especially harmful toward the poor, would be a bad idea in an economic boom,” Sanders said. “In the midst of a severe recession, it would be folly on a scale not seen since the backfiring policies of the Depression era.”

Thomas Cheplick ([email protected]) writes from Cambridge, Massachusetts.

For more information …

“Study of the effects on employment of public aid to renewable energy sources,” Gabriel Calzada, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, March 2009: