When Barack Obama took office, he promised an explosion of jobs in the “green” energy sector, up to five million in the next ten years. In his 2009 stimulus bill, Obama spent $90 billion on green-tech subsidies to kick-start that process. How has that worked out? Reuters takes a long look and reports that the effort has been a bust (via Big Government):
Three years after Obama launched a push to build a job-creating “green” economy, the White House can say that more than 1 million drafty homes have been retrofitted to lower heating and cooling costs, while energy generation from renewable sources such as wind and solar has nearly doubled since 2008.
But the millions of “green jobs” Obama promised have been slow to sprout, disappointing many who had hoped that the $90 billion earmarked for clean-energy efforts in the recession-fighting federal stimulus package would ease unemployment – still above 8 percent in March.
Supporters say the administration over-promised on the jobs front and worry that a backlash could undermine support for clean-energy policies in general.
We have documented much of what Reuters reports today in earlier spot reports, but the collection of flops is truly remarkable — all the more so because of the massive amount of government spending involved. The Obama administration has been reduced now to arguing that its $90 billion expenditure will result in 827,000 “job years” over the course of Obama’s term in office. For those who are counting, that would be 276,000 jobs lasting three years. Even in “job years,” that comes to $108,827 per job-year; in jobs, it comes to $326,481. And the “job-years” construct carries a heavy subtext of a lack of permanence, too.
Not all of the expenditures have aimed at direct job creation, of course. Some of it went to train the unemployed to work in the expected green-sector boom. After spending $173 million on training, the program placed a grand total of 16,092 workers (20% of the target), a cost of over ten grand per placement. That money might have been better used to give each student a year of college education instead.
This has been an expensive flop. At a point when the US already faced a huge public-debt crisis in its near future and the economy was staggering through a private-debt crisis in its present, Obama chose to dump $90 billion of debt into a bet on the so-called green energy sector as a jobs stimulus. It’s been a failure from every possible perspective without even getting to discussions of Solyndra, Ener1, Beacon Power, and other taxpayer-backed bankruptcies.