PolitiFact Ignores Important Information when Rating Tammy Baldwin’s Green Jobs Claim

Reporters, Financial Analysts Among Jobs Considered “Green”

February 18, 2014

by Nick Novak
MacIver Institute Director of Communications

PolitiFact has once again stretched the bounds for what it uses as reliable information when rating the claims of politicians. This time the fact-checking organization ignores significant details before giving U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) a true rating on her statement about green jobs.

On Friday, PolitiFact Wisconsin rated the following statement by Baldwin as true:

“Over 3 million Americans are employed in the growing green-collar workforce, including in clean energy and sustainability, which is more than the amount of people working in the fossil fuel industry.”

The MacIver Institute has researched the amount of green jobs in Wisconsin and the country multiple times over the past few years and found that the definition of a “green job” is wide-ranging and misleading.

Baldwin uses this expanded definition to make her claim.

The problem with this definition is that many of the jobs that get counted as green jobs are not really “green jobs.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their final count of green jobs in the country in March 2013 and found that 3.4 million jobs fell into the category. That would make Baldwin’s claim true, but she forgets to highlight some very important information.

O*NET, an occupational resource center sponsored by the federal Department of Labor, actually produced a list of what qualifies as a green job. They currently have a list of 217 positions.

Some jobs that stick out as questionable include: reporters, correspondents, financial analysts, sheet metal workers, and more. With such generous definitions of what a green job is, it would be very easy to find 3.4 million jobs in the “green” industry.

Former Gov. Jim Doyle tried to make a similar claim during his last State of the State address. He claimed there were more than 300 companies and thousands of jobs in the wind industry in Wisconsin.

Doyle’s administration directed MacIver to Wind Works, a self-described “consortium of manufacturers representing the wind manufacturing supply chain within Wisconsin.”

Wind Jobs.jpg

A MacIver investigation found the advocacy group maintained an online database, but much of the information was unreliable. Of the more than 300 companies cited by Doyle, 38 were in manufacturing and only 24 had anything to do with the wind industry. Of those 24, only eight were primary suppliers.

The jobs in the industry listed by Wind Works were also very misleading. According to the database, more than 7,500 jobs were supposedly in the wind industry in the state, but the investigation found only 31 of those jobs were specifically tied to wind energy related products.

The largest example came from Rexnord Industries. The database showed Rexnord had 6,000 employees. However, a company spokesman confirmed only 1,500 worked in Wisconsin and only five of those had jobs directly related to the wind industry.

When PolitiFact published the rating of Baldwin’s statement, it included the fact that the definition of a green job is very expansive and quoted Daniel Kish, Senior Vice President of Policy at the Institute for Energy Research, who said, “Green is a political word, used by politicians and advocates, that is truly elusive.”

According to PolitiFact’s website, a claim will receive a true rating if, “The statement is accurate and there’s nothing significant missing.

As MacIver has reported before, there is a lot of significant information missing when it comes to the total amount of green jobs here in Wisconsin and around the country. Because of that, a “True” rating seems awfully generous in this situation.