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Yeah, Um, About Those ‘Green’ Jobs…

A gusher of opportunity in the Permian Basin, as Kern County faces a frightening future.

Karen Goh is worried. The mayor of Bakersfield has written Governor Gavin Newsom, asking him to strengthen “financial support for carbon management” and moderate his “anti-oil policies.”

She’s right to be concerned. Professional eco-alarmists enjoy braying about how easy it is for oil-and-gas workers to shift into solar, wind, and conservation/efficiency gigs, but evidence suggests otherwise. A study published last month — and amazingly, covered by Bloomberg — found that “fewer than 1% of all workers leave a dirty job for a green one.” The Golden State is deliberately destroying its hydrocarbon industry, and with Kern County at Ground Zero, Nashville West could well face what one resident fears is “an economic collapse that cannot be avoided.” (In June, Aera Energy LLC laid off 100 staffers, citing “unprecedented political and judicial challenges to California’s oil and gas industry.”)

Particularly susceptible are the less-educated. “Workers and the Green-Energy Transition: Evidence from 300 Million Job Transitions” calculated that the “rate of dirty-to-green transition varies substantially by educational attainment.” Those lacking a bachelor’s degree are “significantly less likely to successfully transition from dirty jobs to green ones compared to workers with at least a BA.” Bakersfield’s June unemployment rate was a whopping 8.6 percent — up 25.7 percent from June 2022.

Meanwhile, down in the Permian Basin, employers can’t find workers fast enough.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, of the nation’s 389 metro regions, Midland, Texas (8.3 percent) and Odessa, Texas (6.7 percent) saw their nonfarm payroll employment grow the most between June 2022 and June 2023. Midland’s unemployment rate was 2.6 percent; Odessa’s, 3.4 percent.

Over the border, the story’s the same in southeast New Mexico. When the Financial Times visited Hobbs in January, it found that “joblessness is plunging, wages are soaring and new tax receipts are flowing to state coffers.” June unemployment in Lea County was 4.6 percent, down from 5.2 percent a year earlier. The comparable rates for Eddy County were 3.3 percent and 3.8 percent.

As for the Land of Enchantment’s glorious “transition” to a “sustainable future,” KUNM’s Bryce Dix recently reported that “despite continuous investments in renewable energy growth here, it’s not looking very sunny for New Mexico.” The state’s “estimated [solar] jobs grew a whopping 0% in 2021 to 2022 according to the … Interstate Renewable Energy Council.”

The lesson? Never take career advice from people who indulge in luxury beliefs. Global hydrocarbon demand isn’t falling, and it’s likely to offer well-compensated opportunities for workers in the American Southwest for many decades to come.

By D. Dowd Muska

Dowd brings nearly 30 years of research and writing experience to the Institute. A veteran of several think tanks, he is an expert on government at the municipal, county, state, and federal levels.

Raised on an apple orchard in the Connecticut River Valley, D. Dowd Muska is a researcher, writer, editor, and commentator. His focus is the nexus of fiscal policy, economic development, and technology.

Mr. Muska is the author of numerous policy studies, and his writing has appeared in newspapers throughout the nation, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Detroit News, the Orlando Sentinel, the Cape Cod Times, the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Hartford Courant, the Waco Tribune-Herald, the Albuquerque Journal, the New Haven Register, and The Oklahoman. A graduate of The George Washington University, he lives in the Albuquerque metro area, but has started (very) early planning for a relocation to the Sierra Blanca in Lincoln County, New Mexico. He recently launched the Substack platform No Dowd About It.

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