Where are the jobs?

Two of the biggest issues facing this country today are unemployment and energy. Our elected officials seem to think that the solution to both is developing emerging renewable energy technology. I disagree.

In a blog in February 2009 titled “Home Remodels, Retrofits Are Key To An Energy-Efficient Future” I noted that “Industry research indicates that even the most aggressive efficiency goals for new homes won’t make a dent in overall energy consumption.” And that “remodeling and retrofitting the nation’s older homes is by far the more efficient solution.”

Today, McKinsey Quarterly arrived in my inbox. The subject “Where are the jobs?” In case you aren’t familiar with McKinsey Quarterly and McKinsey & Company, McKinsey Quarterly is the business journal of McKinsey & Company. Their goal is “to offer new ways of thinking about management in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors.” Quarterly articles are written by McKinsey consultants and “offer practical ideas based on the Firm’s experience with the world’s largest companies and on proprietary research and close ties to academic institutions.”

McKinsey notes that many governments, including our own, have been actively trying to promote growth, competitiveness, and employment. But the state that “policy makers who hope that advanced “clean” technologies can create work on a large scale will probably be disappointed, because these sectors are just too small to make an economy-wide difference. The local-business and household-services sectors are a much better bet: from 1995 to 2005, services generated all net job growth in high-income economies.” As I emphasized in my blog 18 months ago, McKinsey consultants have concluded that “Low-tech “green” activities, such as improving the insulation of buildings and replacing obsolete heating and cooling equipment, could generate more jobs than renewable technologies can.”

Just look at the chart below. A 10% increase in construction employment would create 637,000 jobs. To create the same number of jobs in the clean technologies sector would require an 82% increase.

  To learn more, read “Where the US will find growth and jobs” (March 2010).

Now consider this.

 How much do you spend to heat and cool your home every year? If you reduced that expense by 30% to 50%, what would you do with the money you saved? Even if you only spent a portion of it, it would further stimulate the economy and create jobs in other sectors, like retail.


President / Builder – Chuck Miller Construction Inc.

(208) 229-2553


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