WaPo: Two Pinocchios for Kerry's wind-and-solar jobs claims

Two? Well, it’s a start, anyway. If you missed John Kerry’s remarks on the job-destruction impact from Joe Biden’s executive orders on climate change, let’s refresh memories first. Reporters asked Kerry how the new administration would explain to hundreds of thousands of energy workers about the necessity of making them unemployed, Kerry suggested that they could “make better choices,” and told reporters that they should learn to build solar panels instead.


Kerry also made some claims about the dynamism of employment in the wind and solar energy fields, claims that got the attention of Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler:

Kerry made these claims twice in two days, Kessler points out:

“You look at the consequences of black lung for a miner, for instance, and measure that against the fastest-growing job in the United States before covid was solar power technician. The same people can do those jobs, but the choice of doing the solar power one now is a better choice. And similarly, you have the second-fastest-growing job pre-covid was wind turbine technician.”

— John F. Kerry, special presidential envoy for climate, in remarks at the White House, Jan. 27, 2021

“Before covid, the fastest-growing job in the United States of America was solar panel technician, and the second-fastest-growing job was wind turbine technician.”

— Kerry, remarks on MSNBC, Jan. 28

This metric is so elastic that it might as well be meaningless anyway. What does “fastest growing” mean, anyway? If a category goes from 500 to 2000 jobs, for example, that’s a 400% increase. If six million people get their jobs cut in another category, however, hearing about that 400% increase in another job category won’t do much to cheer them up.


Those hypothetical numbers are a reductio ad absurdum, but as Kessler discovered, the reality of Kerry’s claims match up pretty well to the hypothetical. Coal mining, for instance, employs 50,000 people, Kessler discovered. Will the wind and solar energy sectors grow enough to employ those workers? Those categories won’t grow enough to employ even a quarter of them, not even after ten years at the rates Kerry was hailing in his remarks:

Wind turbine jobs are projected to go up by 4,300, from 7,000 to 11,300 in 10 years. The solar installer jobs are projected to go up 6,100, from 12,000 to 18,100. That’s a total increase of just 10,400 jobs — leaving 40,000 coal workers still toiling in the mines.

In fact, as Kessler discovered, neither wind nor solar sectors show up in projected-growth rankings by numbers of jobs. They don’t rank in the top three, the top ten, or even in the top hundred. So where do they fall?

BLS has a convenient list of the 30 occupations with the most projected job growth. No. 1 is home health and personal-care aides — with a projected gain of nearly 1.2 million jobs. Nurse practitioners show up in 13th place. But wind and solar jobs don’t make the cut at all.

In fact, when we tried to find solar and wind on another BLS list — jobs ranked by projected annual openings through 2029 — we had to scroll past about 600 occupations before we landed on solar installers, with an average of 2,300 openings a year. Wind turbine jobs, with a projected average of 1,300 openings a year, was even further down the list.


Kessler only assigns Kerry two Pinocchios in this case for using “misleading” statistics. If it was only the first time Kerry and other Democrats used these arguments, that might be a fair judgment. However, as I wrote yesterday, it’s not the first time — it’s the same arguments we heard from the Obama-Biden administration from 2009 until they left office in 2017:

They started out their first term by diverting hundreds of billions of dollars — mainly from the $900 billion emergency stimulus package — into “green energy” development. They promised that this “investment” would generate millions of high-paying jobs in renewable energy and that it would obviate the need for fossil-fuel production. Instead, tax money went to busts like Solyndra, companies that couldn’t find investors but got subsidies from the Obama administration anyway.

The results were as predictable then as they are now. Eight years later, gas prices were soaring and the green-energy revolution was nowhere to be seen. Administration officials from Obama on down insisted we couldn’t drill our way out of the energy crunch. Four years after that, the US has become a net energy exporter thanks to investments in expanded oil and gas drilling, prices are low, and supplies are reliable and stable.

Obama, Kerry, and Biden had eight years to prove the assertion that massive government subsidies in renewable energy would pay off with “millions” of green-tech jobs.  Remind us again how many wind and solar installer jobs America currently has 12 years after the massive Porkulus bill?


The most significant lie here isn’t Kerry’s statistical claims. It’s that this administration cares one whit about energy-sector jobs while they take every step they can to destroy them without viable employment or energy options.

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