Bureau of Labor Statistics colors many jobs green

June 18, 2012
You might have a green job and not know it.

You might have a green job and not know it.

As everyone knows, the federal government creates green jobs when it spends public money on supposedly clean, definitely expensive energy.

President Barack Obama will chatter about green jobs in his reelection campaign. His administration has committed a lot of public money to renewable energy and will claim to have created a lot of green jobs in the process.

According to a March report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the US had 3.1 million green jobs in 2010, when workers involved in "green goods and services" accounted for 2.4% of total employment.

But not all of those folks were manufacturing solar panels and designing electric cars.

In a June 6 hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Chairman Darrell E. Issa (R-Calif.) asked John Galvin, acing BLS director, about jobs the bureau construes as green.

"If you sweep the floor in a solar-paneled facility," Issa asked, "is that a green job?"

"Yes," answered Galvin.

"If you drive a hybrid bus in public transportation, is that a green job?"

"According to our definition, yes."

"What about any school bus driver?"


"What about the guy who puts gas in the school bus?"


See the pattern?

Issa's interrogation of Galvin established that that holders of green jobs, by BLS definitions, include bicycle shop employees; sellers of recycled goods in antique stores, Salvation Army outlets, and consignment shops; "the teenage kid who works fulltime in used-record shop;" and garbage collectors.

"How about an oil lobbyist?" Issa asked finally. "Wouldn't an oil lobbyist count as having a green job if they're engaged in advocacy related to environmental issues?"

"Yes," answered Galvin.

This exchange is worth remembering when the administration lays claim to all those green jobs it has created. One of those jobs might be yours. If you pay US taxes, the money spent on uneconomic energy certainly is.

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About the Author

Bob Tippee | Editor

Bob Tippee has been chief editor of Oil & Gas Journal since January 1999 and a member of the Journal staff since October 1977. Before joining the magazine, he worked as a reporter at the Tulsa World and served for four years as an officer in the US Air Force. A native of St. Louis, he holds a degree in journalism from the University of Tulsa.