The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board is shining a light on some questionable jobs claims made in former Vice President Joe Biden’s energy/climate plan. The new editorial examines how the jobs the plan seeks to create would be worse than the jobs it seeks to destroy in the natural gas and oil industry:
- Two recent studies by the North America’s Building Trades Unions “found that ‘both union and non-union’ tradespeople report that oil and gas jobs ‘have better wages, benefits and opportunities than renewables projects.”
- “One survey conducted interviews, focus groups and an online survey with some 1,700 union and non-union workers in energy jobs. Workers reported that oil and gas jobs were longer-term, resulting in steadier incomes and more consistent benefits.”
- “The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the oil and gas industry provides an average annual salary of $108,000, nearly twice the private economy average… NABTU president Sean McGarvey estimates that many union members would ‘take a 50% or 75% pay cut.’”
Discussions of the plan on the campaign trail try to gloss over its potentially devastating impacts on numerous natural gas and oil workers by pointing out that the plan would create new jobs in alternative energy. A misleading portrayal that seemingly wants to give voters the impression that a natural gas or oil worker who lost their job on a Friday would find themselves a new gig in alternative energy gig on Monday.
About Joe’s Energy Jobs
Wall Street Journal Editorial Board
Joe Biden has a message for the fossil-fuel workers he admits he’ll be putting out of work: I have an even better job for you. So why is the nation’s premier building-trade federation warning its members not to believe it?
In July Mr. Biden released a climate agenda that vows a “100% clean energy economy” by 2050. That means largely eliminating coal, oil or natural gas by that date, and Mr. Biden would start by banning all drilling and hydraulic fracturing on federal land. He’d also create a carbon “enforcement mechanism”—a carbon tax of some kind—to raise the cost of private fossil-fuel development.
The Democratic nominee understands this risks alienating blue-collar energy workers in states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. So Mr. Biden is pitching his plan as an opportunity to create “10 million good-paying, middle-class, union jobs.” He’d have taxpayers spend $1.7 trillion in part to “train all of America’s workforce to tap into the growing clean-energy economy,” including energy workers who will install “millions of new solar panels and tens of thousands of wind turbines.” Oil riggers, you will be pleased to know, will seamlessly transition to solar technicians.
North America’s Building Trades Unions, a labor federation of 14 unions and three million members, begs to differ. In July the NABTU—whose affiliates include the Teamsters and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers—released two surveys of workers and statistics that analyze jobs across the energy economy. They found that “both union and non-union” tradespeople report that oil and gas jobs “have better wages, benefits and opportunities than renewables projects.”
One survey conducted interviews, focus groups and an online survey with some 1,700 union and non-union workers in energy jobs. Workers reported that oil and gas jobs were longer-term, resulting in steadier incomes and more consistent benefits. “With solar, you work your way out of a job. . . . Three months duration [then] you’re done,” explained one electrician. Workers also liked that there was “better project variety, skill development and project consistency.” The report emphasized that “skilled trade jobs are not highly interchangeable between industries.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the oil and gas industry provides an average annual salary of $108,000, nearly twice the private economy average. A Journal analysis last year found even higher average wages at large companies like Exxon Mobil, where median worker pay is about $170,000 a year. Renewable medians are harder to measure, but NABTU president Sean McGarvey estimates that many union members would “take a 50% or 75% pay cut.”
In 2008 Barack Obama promised millions of “green jobs,” but the great irony was that the oil-and-gas fracking revolution provided the real employment boom of his Presidency. According to a Bloomberg News analysis, the U.S. fossil fuels industry employs nearly five million people, including 250,000 in Pennsylvania, 174,000 in Ohio and 839,000 in Texas.
Now Mr. Biden wants to extinguish those jobs on a bet on solar panels and wind turbines. As the union workers put it, c’mon, man.