Guess which industry is fueling the biggest jump in U.S. wages since 2007?

posted at 3:21 pm on October 11, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

If you guessed “renewable energy,” you’d be wrong — so wrong. Sure, the green-energy industry may have created some 28,000-odd jobs (a very far cry from the 5 million we were promised, cough cough), but it’s important to remember that even those few ‘successfully’ created green jobs are not necessarily productive jobs.

The green-energy industry is only as big as it is because it’s on the receiving end of a whole heap of different types of subsidies, from tax credits to loan guarantees to direct payments, and subsidies are always and necessarily designed to distort free-market signals. All the money poured into the green industry by the federal government comes at the opportunity cost of that money being spent more effectively and profitably elsewhere — let’s say, perhaps if the government would just stop overstepping its Constitutional boundaries and quit trying to pick economic winners and losers with our money, and we all maybe just had lower taxes in general and could spend that money ourselves? (I know, I know — keep dreaming, Erika.)

However, if you guessed “oil/gas/mining domestic energy production,” you’d be right — so right. Via CNN Money:

Big pay hikes in the energy industry have helped fuel the biggest jump in U.S. wages in more than five years, according to an industry report released Wednesday.

PayScale, which analyzes data from more than 10 million U.S. workers, reported that workers in the mining, oil and gas exploration industry have seen their pay increase by an average of 4.9% over the past 12 months and that has helped to push the average U.S. worker’s paycheck 3% higher over the same period. …

After a brief slowdown in oil and gas exploration early in the recession, there has been a boom in the field. Drilling companies are flocking to places like North Dakota and the Northeast and prices at the pump have skyrocketed, nearly tripling since 2008.

With oil prices rising and the potential of natural gas expanding, the energy sector is going gangbusters — and this is just with the limited access we’re allowed under President Obama and his Interior Department’s meager permitting. Fewer restrictions on American businesses’ opportunities for oil and gas exploration would lead to productive, private-sector job creation, economic growth, and boatloads of federal and state revenue that could help all of our debt problems — but noooooo, we have to keep dumping our money into the bottomless green-energy pit, because that’s the direction that President Obama has magnanimously decided the country needs to take. How very generous of him.


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