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Green Jobs May Pay Poorly, Tend to Be Exported Abroad

1:05 PM, Feb 4, 2009 • By BRIAN FAUGHNAN
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Barack Obama wants to invest billions in green energy -- such as wind and solar -- because it is the wave of the future, and because it will give birth to millions of good-paying jobs here in the United States. There's just one problem: according to a study by a coalition of liberal and environmental groups, many of these jobs don't pay all that well -- worse than traditional manufacturing jobs, in fact -- and many of them are prone to being 'offshored.'

"Our survey results suggest that wind and solar manufacturing workers earn more than the typical employee at a Wal-Mart store, but it would be a stretch to say that all of them have good jobs," the report said.

Wage rates at many wind and solar manufacturing facilities are below the national average for workers employed in the manufacture of durable goods of $18.88 an hour, and average pay rates at some locations fall short of income levels needed to support a single adult with one child.

The lowest wage found was $8.25 an hour at a recycling processing plant, while manufacturing jobs related to renewable energy pay as little as $11 an hour...

The report noted that some U.S. wind and solar manufactures have moved production of components for the U.S. market to low-wage countries like China and Mexico.

The liberal groups that sponsored the study say that since these jobs might not really be all that good after all, the government should require that companies receiving subsidies pay a 'living wage.' This prompts a serious question: Just how long will the government need to subsidize 'the industries of the future?' After all, oil and coal energy jobs sustain themselves -- without a taxpayer subsidy. If the president wants us to invest heavily in an alternative, he ought to consider how long it will operate as a drain on the economy.

And more importantly, will the president now agree to delete the alternative energy provisions from the 'stimulus' bill? After all, if the jobs won't pay all that well, will require federal subsidies, and might be shipped abroad at any time, aren't they pretty much the opposite of what the 'stimulus' is supposed to create?