October 27, 2017

Bloomberg, Quartz Waste Time, Mislead Readers on Trivial Projected Growth in Renewable Energy Jobs

It would be hard to find an example of a story covering an aspect of business and the economy more pathetic than Jordan Yadoo’s report on the government’s biennial 10-year employment growth projections published at Bloomberg News on Tuesday. Yadoo was impressed, or knew better and wanted to mislead readers and other outlets into being impressed, that “The number of solar photovoltaic installers … is projected to more than double.” Excuse the yawning you may hear in the background — If true, that will represent fewer than 1,000 new jobs annually.

For context, here is the opening paragraph from the Bureau of Labor Statistics report, which contains a hint that Yadoo has no reason to be excited (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Employment is projected to increase by 11.5 million over the 2016-26 decade, an increase from 156.1 million to 167.6 million, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. This growth–0.7 percent annually–is faster than the 0.5 percent rate of growth during the 2006–16 decade, a period heavily affected by the 2007–09 recession. Health care industries and their associated occupations are expected to account for a large share of new jobs projected through 2026, as the aging population continues to drive demand for health care services. The labor force will continue to grow slowly and to become older and more diverse. The aging population is projected to result in a decline in the overall labor force participation rate over the 2016 to 2026 decade.

Here’s Yadoo’s opening paragraph at Bloomberg (HT Instapundit):

These Are the Fastest Growing Jobs in the U.S.

Home health aides, statisticians, solar-panel installers and software developers are among the 15 fastest-growing occupations in the U.S. and reflect the needs of an aging population, a shift to clean energy and employer demand for science, technology and math talent.

Here is the graphic which shows the supposedly spectacular projected growth in solar installers:

BloombergBLSprojJobGrowth2016to2026

Quartz’s Karen Hao blindly bought into Yadoo’s excitement, and was also thrilled with the projected growth in wind power service technicians. She turned that into a riff about how renewables are the cool kids, and coal is history:

Even as some people would like to see a rebirth of the coal industry in the US, it’s renewable energy that keeps generating good news.

Over the next decade, jobs for solar panel installers and wind turbine technicians will grow twice as fast as any other occupation, according to a Bloomberg analysis of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’s biennial employment projections released yesterday.

Here’s where those two occupations’ employment stood as of May 2016, where today’s BLS projections begin (“RSE” stands for “relative standard error” of the reported item; specific links are here and here; Bloomberg’s Yadoo himself linked to the solar table):

JobsInSolarInstAndWindTechs0516

Taking the relative standard errors involved into account, while mostly rounding the numbers presented to the nearest hundred, here is what Tuesday’s BLS report projects:

  • The number of solar photovoltaic installers, at between 7,800 and 9,900 in May of 2016, will grow to between 16,100 and 20,200 by 2026, representing 10-year job growth of between 8,300 and 10,300 (about 700-860 jobs per year).
  • The number of wind turbine service technicians, at between 4,100 and 5,000 in May of 2016, will grow to between 8,100 and 9,900 by 2026, representing 10-year job growth of between 4,000 and 4,800 (400-480 jobs per year).
  • The two categories’ combined projected job growth is between 12,300 and 15,100. The midpoint is 13,700. That’s 0.12 percent of BLS’s total projected 10-year job growth of 11.5 million.

The obvious Cliff’s Notes version: Yadoo’s and Hao’s efforts were complete wastes of readers’ time — unless their goal was to mislead them into believing that these jobs will be significant contributors to employment growth.

Sure, we’ll take jobs anywhere we can get them, but the idea that BLS’s projections, if true, reflect some kind of awesome boom in renewables, which is clearly what the two reporters will cause many readers to believe, is complete rubbish.

Bloomberg’s editors clearly need to set better reporting priorities and monitor their journalists’ work more closely — unless one of their top priorities is also misleading readers.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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