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‘Two Pinocchios’: WashPost Fact Checker Calls Out John Kerry for ‘misleading framing of potential solar and wind jobs’

By Jeffrey Rodack


“You look at the consequences of black lung for a miner, for instance, and measure that against the fastest-growing job in the United States before covid was solar power technician. The same people can do those jobs, but the choice of doing the solar power one now is a better choice. And similarly, you have the second-fastest-growing job pre-covid was wind turbine technician.”  — John F. Kerry, special presidential envoy for climate, in remarks at the White House, Jan. 27, 2021

“Before covid, the fastest-growing job in the United States of America was solar panel technician, and the second-fastest-growing job was wind turbine technician.” — Kerry, remarks on MSNBC, Jan. 28


The Washington Post is calling out John Kerry, President Joe Biden’s climate czar, for his remarks about the fastest-growing jobs in the U.S.

The Post’s Fact Checker column gave Kerry, special presidential envoy for climate, two Pinocchios for his “misleading framing” of potential solar and wind jobs.

It noted Kerry had said this month that before the pandemic the fastest-growing job in the U.S. was solar panel technician, and the second-fastest was wind turbine technician.

The post checked the Bureau of Labor Statistics and found that first place showed “wind turbine service technicians,” with a projected gain of 60.7%, second place was “nurse practitioners,” at 52.4%, and third place was “solar photovoltaic installers,” at 50.5%.

“Okay, so Kerry has been bungling his talking point a bit,” the Post column noted. “Wind is before solar, not vice versa, and those professions are projected to be the first- and third-fastest-growing jobs, not first and second.”

It pointed out Kerry had also said those in coal mining jobs can do the jobs of solar technicians and wind turbine technicians.

But the Post said the solar and wind jobs are projected to grow by a combined 10,400 new positions in 10 years – leaving 40,000 coal workers still in the mines.

“The projected new jobs in these industries over 10 years amount to just 20 percent of the current number of coal jobs — and they do not pay as well either,” the Post said.

For the purposes of this fact check, we’re more interested in how many jobs are represented by those percentages. After all, at the White House, Kerry mentioned these statistics in the context of coal mining jobs — “The same people can do those jobs” — which before the pandemic amounted to about 50,000 jobs (and about 30,000 below surface). Could these solar and wind jobs match that number?

In sum, no.

Wind turbine jobs are projected to go up by 4,300, from 7,000 to 11,300 in 10 years. The solar installer jobs are projected to go up 6,100, from 12,000 to 18,100. That’s a total increase of just 10,400 jobs — leaving 20,000 coal workers still toiling in the mines. (Oops, we got a bit carried away with our language in an earlier version of this article, so have corrected the previous sentence. The 50,000-figure refers to all workers in the coal-mining industry; there are a little over 30,000 workers who work underground.)

It’s worth noting that Kerry said “the same people” can do coal mining or green-energy jobs. But it’s not an instant shift. BLS says solar installers require “moderate-term on-the-job training,” while wind turbine technicians require “long-term on-the-job training.”

His framing is misleading because, according to the government statistics he relied on, the actual number of jobs is relatively small. The percentage gain is so high because the number of jobs in 2019 for both solar panel installers and wind turbine technicians is relatively small. The projected new jobs in these industries over 10 years amount to just 20 percent of the current number of coal jobs — and they do not pay as well either.

Of course, this might change if the Biden administration succeeds in its green-energy push. But until then, Kerry is offering false hope with a misleading use of statistics.

Two Pinocchios

Meanwhile, Federal Aviation Administration records reportedly indicate that the family of Kerry owns a private jet – likely leaving a large carbon footprint.





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