U.S. Manufacturing is Not Just Green Jobs, You Know

Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis appeared Thursday on the public radio program, the Diane Rehm Show, interviewed by guest host Frank Sesno. The day’s economic news, a rise in the 3rd Quarter GDP, and unemployment were big topics.

The odd thing about the discussion was Secretary Solis’ overreliance on talking points about “green jobs,” hybrid vehicles and renewable energy. It sounded as if the Obama Administration thinks U.S. manufacturing should reorient itself to federally subsidized green jobs and nothing but.

There’s more to manufacturing!

Solis: [I] think there are going to be new opportunities too. For example, yesterday a visit I had in Las Vegas with Nevada Energy, through the smart grid we’re making moneys available, $138 million, to help jump start a new infrastructure there that will allow consumers in that state to be able to monitor and meter their use of energy, electricity, which means a great deal for Nevada because, you know, the extreme hot weather there during the summer and also right now as we get into winter, obviously cooling trends. But if people can have information to be available to know how they’re using, consuming energy and how they work to reduce those high costs themselves, that’s a big incentive for all of us.

Sesno: I want to talk more about the whole smart grid and green energy and all of that in a moment, but you mentioned Nevada. Nevada has been slammed, of course, because the property values there have just fallen through the floor, home sales have been stifled, and the tourism industry has taken a big hit because of the rest of the economy as well. So with that particular example, that money you were talking about, does that create in the short term more jobs for Nevada?

Solis: Well, it will, because there will be at least 200 jobs that will be created for individuals who’ll need to be trained in the reading of these new meters that are going to be ….

Sesno…That’s a start…

Solis …situated

Sesno: But that’s still a drop in the bucket

Solis: No. Well, it’s a start, but what happens is there’s additional retail activity that has to happen, or will happen, because people will be purchasing different pieces of equipment that you can attach to your refrigerator that will serve as a thermostat, and that will happen. There will be accountants that have to be hired. There will business managers, there will have to be warehouse people hired, people in trucking industry, they’ll have to help us transport.

We’ve transcribed more from the interview here.

Green jobs? Good. We like them. But they’re not a panacea, and judging from the examples Secretary Solis cited in the interview, the Administration seems to favor the green jobs that require heavy federal subsidies.

(Edited Saturday for grammar.)

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