What Happened To Spain’s Green Jobs?

  • Date: 04/01/10

Russ Steele: The Sunday San Francisco Chronicle Business section has this story on unemployment soaring among Spain’s youth by Nelson D. Schwartz, New York Times. As you will recall, Spain was on the forefront of going green. While Spain has traditionally suffered from relatively high unemployment, double the 9.8 percent average for the European Union, but the sharpest increase has been among young people. It has jumped from 17.5 percent three years ago to the current 42.9 percent.

Unemployment soars among Spain’s youth

“Like hundreds of thousands of other young people, Jesus Pesquero Penas dropped out of school to go to work when the Spanish economy was booming. But since he was laid off from his construction job two years ago, he has been living on unemployment benefits. Now Penas finds himself part of a lost generation in Spain, where unemployment among people ages 16-24 is 42.9 percent, the highest in Europe, and more than double the overall rate.”

Where are all the promised green jobs? How could this happen when Spain was on the leading edge in the EU to convert to a sustainable life style free from their oil addiction, by adopting wind and solar power. California Governor has often pointed to Spain as a example for California to follow.

“Adding to Spain’s woes, its government is unable to inject more stimulus and offer further support for job creation while its economy languishes as one of the weakest in Europe. The outlook on Spanish sovereign debt was recently downgraded, and the government is moving to raise taxes and cut spending.”

As I have written before, every green job in Spain created through government subsidies resulted in the loss of 2.5 jobs in the regular economic sectors. Details here. Though not mentioned in the NYT article one has to wonder how much going green contributed to the job losses in the youth sector?

“In part, Spain is paying the price for its efforts to make it easier to put young people to work. In recent years, a disproportionate share of Spanish youth were employed on temporary contracts. So they were the easiest to lay off when the economy sank, said Alfonso Prieto, deputy director general of employment studies at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.”

Again, one has to ask were those temporary employment contracts funded with government subsidies for green jobs? Will the same happen in California, if we create job with government subsidies? We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation and and the Governor is seeking green subsidies a Federal bailout? We should all be aware of the Spanish experience.

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