The Myth of High Paid Green Manufacturing Jobs

Interesting article in the Free Press this weekend on the wages that GM will pay workers in plants that will make the components for its electric vehicles. Less than $14 an hour. And yes workers in those plants will be represented by the UAW!

This should put to rest –but won’t – the dream that we can recreate a high wage factory-based economy by building a green economy. The proposed wages are consistent with the pattern we have seen in other green tech factory jobs in Michigan. Yes green tech offers an opportunity for new factory jobs, but they are highly unlikely to be high wage. Jobs that require low education attainment – no matter what industry they are in – will no longer be high wage jobs. Those jobs are gone forever.

Should Michigan and the country encourage the growth of a green economy? Of course. Both for environmental and economic reasons. But building that economy will not reverse the long term trend that both job growth and high wage jobs are going to increasingly be knowledge-based. The high wage green economy jobs will be concentrated in the knowledge parts of the sector – management, R&D, engineering and design, logistics, marketing, etc. And more than likely its also where most of the green economy jobs will be.

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