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Al Gore Cherry-Picks Green Jobs Data

Former Vice President Al Gore said there has been an “88 percent growth in green jobs, year over year, over the past year.” That’s misleading. Gore cited data on job openings, not actual jobs, and the data was for two quarters, not a full year, and more than a year old.

More recent data from Gore’s source — a for-profit trade school — show that green job openings increased 5.6 percent in 2014 compared with the year before.

The former vice president, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to increase knowledge about climate change, is now an environmental activist. He is the founder and chairman of the Climate Reality Project.

In an interview with Chris Hayes of MSNBC’s “All In,” Gore criticized Republican presidential candidates who say taking action on climate change will hurt the economy and cost jobs.

Gore, Sept. 29: There are tens of millions of jobs in this, and it’s one of the few areas in our economy where the jobs are growing in number fairly rapidly. Eighty-eight percent growth in green jobs year over year over the past year.

We asked the Climate Reality Project for the source of the 88 percent increase. Deb Greenspan, a spokeswoman for Gore’s group, sent us a link to an Aug. 13, 2014, trade publication article that said there were “two million job postings in the first half of 2014 alone, which amounts to an 88% increase over the same period a year earlier.” The article cited as its source a press release issued that day by Ecotech Institute, a private for-profit trade school in Colorado that purchases the data to use as a marketing tool. (A graphic on the school’s website boasts: “American Clean Jobs are Up 88%.”)

We cannot verify the accuracy of the green job openings. Ecotech Institute says it gets the data from Burning Glass Technologies, a private jobs market analytics firm, and uses a definition of “green jobs” developed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (That definition, by the way, has been criticized by conservatives as overly broad because it includes bus drivers, subway car operators and other traditional jobs. BLS has said there were 3.4 million green jobs in 2011, representing 2.6 percent of all jobs at that time, but it has stopped keeping track due to funding cuts.)

BLS does not track the number of green job openings. It does provide monthly job opening figures for all sectors, and there were 5.8 million total job openings as of the last business day in July — the highest the measure has been since BLS began keeping track in December 2000. But we cannot say how many of the 5.8 million job openings in July were “green jobs” as defined by the bureau.

Setting aside the debate over the definition of green jobs, Gore’s 88 percent figure is outdated and misleading.

In April, Ecotech posted a graphic on its website that says there were 3.8 million green job openings in 2014. If true, that is only 5.6 percent more than the 3.6 million job openings that it reported in 2013. We note that the April graphic says there was a 13 percent increase in 2014, but that graphic does not provide a number for 2013, which we found elsewhere on the website as 3,599,022. That works out to be a 5.6 percent increase.

But Gore didn’t cite the more recent figures and instead cherry-picked data from more than a year ago to support his argument.

— Eugene Kiely