Jay Inslee has repeatedly said that a few billion invested in green energy programs will yield many fold return in GDP and hundreds of thousands of new jobs. This is a feel-good claim, but does not appear to be true in either theory or practice.
In theory, if such stats were true, government investment wouldn’t even be necessary here since the free market would heavily pursue such good investments on its own.
In practice, Congress just had a $860 billion stimulus (which Inslee voted for) to invest in job creation as they saw fit which didn’t create jobs, and hasn’t grown our GDP. If nearly a trillion dollars isn’t enough, how much more does he need?
The stimulus actually allocated billions to wind energy and still didn’t produce the results Inslee predicted. The LA Times reported that “few jobs were created overall and wind power manufacturing employment, in particular, fell.”
Other countries were able to figure this out without having to go on a borrowed trillion dollar spending spree. In Spain, Dr. Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at Juan Carlos University in Madrid, studied Spain’s green jobs investments from 2001-2009 and found that every “green job” cost 2.2 other jobs. Germany has been subsidizing green jobs to the tune of 240,000 per job.
Here are some of examples of Inslee’s claims from his book, Apollo’s Fire:
Promised return on investment for GDP
“1 billion invested in transit capital project creates 30,000 jobs”
Spend “$100 billion over ten years but would leverage two and a half times that amount in direct GDP impacts and the creation of 678,000 jobs, while unleashing many times that amount of investment in private capital in new urban development projects.”
“investments just under $5 billion a year would yield nearly $415 billion in new GDP over ten years, while creating 932,000 jobs”
“Invest $313 billion in the productive base of our economy over ten years. … it would also generate over $1.3 trillion in GDP gains, produce over 3.3 million jobs, and create nearly a trillion dollars in new personal income”
“Spending $4.2 billion a year for ten years on residential, commercial, and industrial retrofits … that could create over half a million good jobs and more than $235 billion in GDP gains”
“for a cost of $2.7 billion per year, a federal matching program for state PBFs alone could save $15 billion a year”
(* = computed with investment of 2.7*2 = 5.4 billion since it’s a matching program)
This poor prediction on job creation is not surprising from a guy that doesn’t seem to understand the “broken window fallacy“.
My point here is not that clean energy is bad. I’m a huge fan of clean energy. I just want us to be honest about the economics of it. We can’t tackle a problem this hard by sugarcoating it. And the middle of a recession may not be the best time to try out job-killing legislation.
Jay Inslee is not being honest about the economics of green jobs. He’s just saying what we want to hear and hoping we don’t double check the math. We need to hold Inslee accountable so that we can have honest discussions about hard issues.
The good news is that Inslee finally has a strong challenger, James Watkins, and James Watkins understands job creation takes more than just spending hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money. James Watkins has had a record of working with small businesses and creating jobs. Support James Watkins: Less government, more jobs.