Nishan Kharga performs a quality control inspection of solar cells before they are shipped out for assembly in solar panels. The Suniva manufacturing plant in Norcross runs 24/7 with plans to expand. BRANT SANDERLIN /BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM
Photo: Brant Sanderlin
Photo: Brant Sanderlin

No clear information on number of “green” jobs created by Obama

(Editor’s note: As President Obama nears the end of his final term, PolitiFact will be rating the last of the more than 500 campaign promises he made during his 2008 and 2012 campaigns. For a full list of those promises and our ratings on the Obameter, please see\.)

During his 2008 campaign, President Obama promised to “create 5 million ‘green’ jobs.”

Back in 2012, we rated this In the Works because while the promise has a 10-year window, the funding had all but disappeared.

Since then, the number of “green” jobs has increased, but it’s hard to say if it will reach 5 million.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “green” jobs have a broad definition. They include:

• Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources;

• and jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.

This broad definition makes it difficult to count the exact number of “green” jobs. In addition, the federal government did not start tracking of the number of “green” jobs until 2010, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics discontinued all “measuring green jobs” products in 2013 because of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act.

However, as of March 2016 there were 2.5 million jobs in clean energy alone, according to the nonpartisan group Environmental Entrepreneurs, with about 77,088 jobs solely in the wind industry.

Solar power jobs doubled in the past five years, according to the independent Solar Foundation, a nonprofit promoting solar energy.

Also last year, the number of jobs in the solar industry overtook those in oil and natural gas extraction for the first time, Bloomberg reported.

This growth in clean jobs is caused in part by the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC),and the Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit (PTC) — both of which were extended in December 2015.

Plus, there are other reasons clean jobs could be on rise, said Severin Borenstein, a research associate of the Energy Institute at Hass and former director of the University of California Energy Institute.

“Probably two of the most important are that many states have expanded their Renewable Portfolio Standards, requiring more renewable power, and creating more jobs in that sector,” Borenstein said. “The other reason is that the real cost of wind and solar power have come down dramatically during the Obama administration, making them more attractive investments.”

He added that because “green” jobs have such a broad definition, they would have increased along with the general employment rate.

Obama promised to “create 5 million ‘green’ jobs.” He did extend tax credits, and the demand for renewable power increased as the cost to make it decreased. But since the Bureau of Labor Statistics stopped counting “green” jobs in 2013, and there was no baseline to begin with, we can’t know for certain the exact number created during Obama’s time in office.

We rate this promise a Compromise.

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For a full list of all of President Obama’s promises and our ratings, please see