During a recent California Energy Commission proceeding on our clean energy goals, it was recommended that job creation be included as a metric for measuring the success of clean energy policies. This will only be meaningful if we count all the jobs that will be lost as a result of a policy. Therefore our job creation goal, and the metric to measure it, should only count net new jobs.

This prompted us to look at the Brookings Institution’s recently released report on green jobs — Sizing the Clean Economy. The report stated that California leads the country in the "green" sector, boasting 332,000 jobs.  To put things in perspective, that number accounts for only two percent of the state’s entire job base and about one job for every 115 people. Further it doesn’t make up for the state’s overall jobs loss, nor does it make up for the state’s high wage job losses.

Green job definitions vary widely, depending on who you talk to.  For instance, the Brookings report maintained that public mass transit operators are in fact "green".  Regardless, even with the broadest definitions, the green economy on its own will not catapult California into its next greatest economic boom.  The emerging sector is just another important part of the overall economy that will only grow if it — just like our coveted high wage sectors — can compete and invest here in California.

California can only expect large scale job growth if we can provide a predictable and competitive environment for a wide range of employers.   Regularly evolving "green" mandates and subsidies in California raise costs or force reduced output, making most other parts of our economy inefficient.  That’s a tough pill to swallow to help grow two percent of the workforce and it will no doubt dampen new investments in the state.

We compared some of California’s high wage sector employment statistics to the new green jobs numbers.  Basically we found that our green jobs do not net out our losses.  Here’s how the numbers broke down (Click image for larger pdf):