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Monday, March 8, 2021

Dean Baker: Environment Versus How Many Jobs? [feedly]

Much as I love Dean, saying energy -- or for that matter, industrial -- workers are a more negligible component of the workforce than in earlier decades wrongly understates their power in the real economy, and in the labor movement. When you imply you can leave energy, manufacturing, construction workers "behind" -- and that iS the implication -- is like inviting the labor movement to a race with one of its legs gone. If labor is not capable of becoming fully engaged, I predict not much progress will be made against reaction. Leaving out -- or leaving in second place --  compensation and transition to these workers in Green New Deal programs is an invitation to defeat.

Environment Versus How Many Jobs?

Dean Baker

The Washington Post had an article on concerns among unions about job loss due to various measures from the Biden administration to promote clean energy. The article noted concerns that Biden's agenda may lead to the loss of good-paying jobs in the fossil fuel sector.

It would have been helpful to point out how many jobs are potentially at stake. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fossil fuel powered electric plants and the pipeline industry, the two sectors discussed in the piece employ 78,700 and 48,200 workers, respectively.

The workers employed in fossil fuel power generation are a bit more than 0.05 percent of total employment, while employment in the pipeline industry is just over 0.03 percent. Employment in fossil fuel power generation was already falling rapidly under the Trump administration, declining by 16,800, or 18.0 percent, over the last four years.

It is also worth noting that in a typical (pre—pandemic) month, roughly 1.8 million workers lose their jobs. Over the course of a year, this would come to 27 million. (Some workers lose a job more than once in a year, so this does not mean 27 million workers lose their job.) The job loss in these industries due to the promotion of clean energy would presumably take place over many years, not all at once.

The fact that other workers frequently lose their jobs does not reduce the hardship for workers losing relatively good paying jobs in the fossil fuel industry. But it is important to place the potential size of the job loss in some context. And, in the case of the fossil fuel power generation sector, it is important to note that there was already substantial job loss under Trump, so job loss is not a new problem that will be created by Biden's policies, even if it may be accelerated.

The post Environment Versus How Many Jobs? appeared first on Center for Economic and Policy Research.

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