The Green Collar Job Myth

There is less than meets the eye with these gigs.


Jimmy P. at the DNC—Another staple of the many convention speeches is the claim that Obamanomics, via government "investment," will create five million "green collar" jobs. But here's the thing: These jobs are, for the most part, not the kind of gigs many middle class folks would have much interest in doing: bike repair, hazardous material cleanup, landscaping, tree cutting, attic insulation, large-scale green waste composting.

Then again, these jobs really aren't geared toward the middle class to begin with. A 2007 report by the city of Berkeley—of course!—described the potential pool of applicants for green collar jobs this way: "Youth and adults who do not have a high school degree, have been out of the labor market for a long time, were formerly incarcerated, have limited education and/or labor market skills." So basically we're are talking about matching low-skill folks with low-wage jobs. For the really high-paying green jobs, you have to look at the firms being created by entrepreneurs and financed by venture capital, with or without federal tax subsidies. But there's been no mention of that in Denver.