Are you a financial adviser? You may not know it, but you've got a green job. Are you a wholesale buyer? You've got a green job, too. Or maybe you're a newspaper reporter. You, too, have a green job -- at least according to the Obama administration.
For months, Republican Sen. Charles Grassley has been pushing the administration to substantiate its claims of having created nearly 200,000 green jobs. More fundamentally, Grassley has asked Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to state clearly what a green job is. So far, he hasn't gotten an answer.
Now, Grassley has learned that, in lieu of a settling on a straightforward definition of a green job, the administration has adopted an extraordinarily broad description of such jobs that could include not only financial advisers, wholesale buyers and reporters but also public-relations specialists, marketing managers and many more occupations that have nothing to do with protecting the environment.
If federal money has created any of those jobs, then the administration can claim to have created a green job.
Last June, Grassley sent Solis a letter questioning an administration request for public input on the definition of a green job. Grassley dryly noted that the request came after the government had already spent hundreds of millions of stimulus dollars on green jobs. Given that the administration couldn't nail down just what a green job is, Grassley asked Solis how she determined where those hundreds of millions of dollars went.
In response, Assistant Labor Secretary Jane Oates told Grassley that the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics is "working to develop a definition for green-job sectors and jobs." Oates also noted that the department has "supported occupational research that begins to define green jobs." She specifically suggested he look at work done by a Labor Department project called the Occupational Information Network, also known as O*NET.
So Grassley's staff checked out O*NET and found extensive listings of jobs that could be classified, for government purposes, as "green." The list includes "arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators," "financial analysts," "financial quantitative analysts," "investment underwriters," "marketing managers," "personal financial advisers," "public-relations specialists," "wholesale and retail buyers" and "reporters and correspondents."
Grassley was appalled. "These are, no doubt, respectable and needed professions," he writes in a new letter to Solis, "but their tenuous connection to the stated goal of 'green jobs' only underscores the mismanaged efforts of the Department's stimulus dollar spending."