Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Crisis-resistant green jobs?

Die Zeit opens a report on the lower unemployment figures in Eastern Germany with a picture of solar cell production. It turns out that the former Communist states, where unemployment figures of 15 to 20 percent are common, have actually continued to strengthen over the past year. A lot of Germany's manufacturing base in these new renewables sectors are based in the East, and the article says there is a connection. Over the past year, the unemployment rate in the former communist states fell from 14.8 to 13.9 percent.

The figure is 7.7 percent for all of Germany (compared to the current 10.2 percent in the US).

Can the same effects be expected in the US? Not if you believe the interpretation of Ken Silverstein at Harper's. He interprets this report from the Boston globe to mean that green jobs are "moving to China."

I'm not convinced. All easy manufacturing is moving to places where labor is cheap (in terms of skill, panel manufacturing is closer to furniture assembly than to high-tech solar cell/wafer production); German solar firms have also announced that they will increasingly be manufacturing in Asia, and nonetheless they still serve as a stabilizing factor at home.

No comments:

Post a Comment