Green jobs may not be the key to the middle class after all
Green jobs, the administration says, are going to be good, high-paying union jobs that will employ tens of thousands of people, all while helping the nation transition from fossil fuels to renewables.
It sounds good, but is it true? According to the New York Times, the promises of good, green jobs may fall well short of the rhetoric:
The Green New Deal, first introduced in 2019, sought to “create millions of good, high-wage jobs.” And in March, when President Biden unveiled his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, he emphasized the “good-paying” union jobs it would produce while reining in climate change.
“My American Jobs Plan will put hundreds of thousands of people to work,” Mr. Biden said, “paying the same exact rate that a union man or woman would get.”
But on its current trajectory, the green economy is shaping up to look less like the industrial workplace that lifted workers into the middle class in the 20th century than something more akin to an Amazon warehouse or a fleet of Uber drivers: grueling work schedules, few unions, middling wages and limited benefits.
There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is that solar farms just take a lot less manpower to maintain, never mind the high paying jobs lost when those gas and coal plants shut down:
The effect of Mr. Biden’s plan, which would go further in displacing well-paid workers in fossil-fuel-related industries, could be similarly disappointing.
In the energy industry, it takes far more people to operate a coal-powered electricity plant than it takes to operate a wind farm. Many solar farms often make do without a single worker on site.
There’s little doubt that green energy generation plants will spread. But the economics of building and maintaining them are clearly different than those of traditional power plants. Political fixes, like tax credits for hiring green works, or mandates to pay union wages, won’t fix those issues – but they could easily make them worse.