Imagine if, in 1963, two years after JFK’s famous speech to Congress, the New York Times had run a story, “Space program fails to live up to promise.” That will give you some idea of how bad a recent NYT story on the clean energy economy was, “Number of Green Jobs Fails to Live Up to Promises.”
The story is triply terrible: It’s incorrect and premature and misleading. So of course it has been quoted endlessly by the right-wing media. It’s sad when the U.S. press isn’t any better than the UK press (see “Over Half the Coverage of Renewable Energy in Mainstream British Press is Negative“).
First, the core inaccuracy:
A study released in July by the non-partisan Brookings Institution found clean-technology jobs accounted for just 2 percent of employment nationwide and only slightly more — 2.2 percent — in Silicon Valley. Rather than adding jobs, the study found, the sector actually lost 492 positions from 2003 to 2010 in the South Bay, where the unemployment rate in June was 10.5 percent.
Talk about a bait and switch. The NYT cites the Brookings study, but then pulls out one tiny piece of it to make the exact opposite argument of the study. As Climate Progress wrote, Brookings actually found nationwide:
From 2003 to 2010, the clean [energy] economy grew by 8.3% — almost double what the overall economy grew during those years….
“The pace of growth really is torrid in that sector,” says Mark Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings Metropolitan Program and a co-author of the report. “This confirms the intuition that these exciting industries really are growing as fast as we think they are.”
(Note: We incorrectly reported earlier that the entire sector saw 8.3% growth from 2003 to 2010. We have since corrected that error to reflect the real time frame for the growth of the whole sector— 2008-2009. Only one third of the sector — the clean energy part — saw 8.3% growth between 2003 and 2010.)
On top of that, median salaries for cleantech-related jobs are $46,343, or about $7,727 more than the median wages across the broader economy. But you’d never know that from the NYT hit job.
Then we have this wildly premature B.S. from the Times: