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A Brown Jobs Bonanza Reshaping America

While the government has been spending billions of dollars to produce a handful of sickly green jobs without much staying power, a veritable gusher of ‘brown’ jobs in traditional mining and energy extractive industries is on the brink of rejuvenating the American economy.

That at least is what Joel Kotkin and his associates have discovered.  Looking at where the new jobs are and where the jobs are good, Kotkin et. al report that the economic sector responsible for both the fastest rate of new job creation and the best paying jobs is right where Greenpeace doesn’t want it to be: mining coal, frakking gas, and pumping oil.

The much despised brown jobs sector grew by 58% in the years after 2006 when economic growth as a whole slowed, Kotkin finds, creating more than half a million new jobs, and this is one of the best paying sectors in the economy, with average annual wages of more than $100,000 a year.

The brown job revolution has the potential to revive midwestern states like Ohio and Michigan with significant new energy finds opening doors to both energy jobs and a manufacturing revival.

Ohio now has over 64,000 wells, with five hundred drilled just year [sic]. Recent and potential finds, particularly in the Appalachian basin, could transform the Buckeye State into something of a Midwest Abu Dhabi, creating more than 200,000 jobs over the next decade. The new finds could also help Ohio fund its depleted state coffers without imposing either debilitating budget cuts or economically self defeating new taxes.

The energy boom also has sparked a spate of new factory expansions, including a $650 million new steel mill to make pipes for gas pipelines. Other local firms are gearing up to make up specialized equipment like compressors.

Michigan, another perennially hard hit state, is also looking at new energy finds to turbocharge its gradually recovering industrial sector.  While risible former Gov. Jennifer Granholm pushed the notion that Michigan’s recovery lay in “cool cities” and green jobs, the state’s current leaders are focusing on more down-to-earth — and under-the-earth — solutions as part of a strategy to revive industrial production.

Read the whole thing; the American future looks much, much brighter than grumpy greens and dejected declinists would have you believe.

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  • Anthony

    “The surest road to recovery does not lie in the chimera of “green jobs” or by magically harvesting riches from social networks. It’s in making America a more self-reliant and productive power.” WRM, energy and oil exploration keys to new growth and perhaps revival economically in some areas of country Kotkin’s general premise – if so U.S. citizens may begin migration (in bigger numbers) to energy-oriented metropolitan economies. Such an outcome inures to the unemployed and benefits country.

  • Corlyss

    Never fear! The Obama administration’s EPA is on the case! It will put a stop to those pesky cheap-energy, good-paying jobs as soon as they pull on their managed-economy boots. The anti-prosperity gestapo are going to destroy this economy if it’s the last thing they do!

  • Scott

    Unemployment in North Dakota is the lowest in the nation, only 3.5%, thanks in large part to oil production in the Bakken Shale formation.

    Professor Mead, on another optimistic note, you may find this press release in the link below from Boston Consulting Group worth reading. BCG is predicting a potential “Manufacturing Renaissance” in the U.S. in the next five years. It is 180 degrees from all the pessimistic doom and gloom stuff that dominates the media narrative nowadays:

  • Jeff77450

    It makes you wonder how many jobs would be created if all restrictions on off-shore drilling and ANWAR were to be lifted.

    Hundreds-of-thousands of high-paying jobs, increased tax revenues, reduced trade-deficit. And yet the current administration will not even consider it.

  • Luke Lea

    “Recent and potential finds, particularly in the Appalachian basin, could transform the Buckeye State into something of a Midwest Abu Dhabi, creating more than 200,000 jobs over the next decade.”

    Unfortunately we need one million new jobs a year just to keep up with population growth, the majority of it due to immigration, both legal and illegal.

    When you look at job growth during the Bush administration, it turns out that the lion’s share of the new jobs went to immigrants. Expect the same if and when we come out of this recession — even as the labor-force participation rate of black and white American citizens with a high-school education or less — we’re talking half the population for God’s sake — continues to fall.

    An across-the-board time-out on immigration from all countries makes sense at this particular moment in our history, not only because of the unemployment situation, but to give us time to integrated and assimilate the 30-to-40 million foreign born who are already in this country.

    We did it once before, between 1920 and 1965, and it gave birth to our greatest generation. Let’s do it again.

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