Is the Renewable Energy Industry Nothing More Than a Jobs Program?

— For the most part, it is.

By Julius Sanks

Milton Friedman famously, and probably apocryphally, upon seeing a canal being dug by hand rather than with modern equipment, is said to have remarked: “Oh, I thought you were building a canal. If it’s jobs you want, then you should give these workers spoons, not shovels.”

Whether the tale is true or not, we are now seeing something similar in real life. Over at Grist, journalist Kate Yoder crows that young people are supposedly heading to renewable energy jobs rather than work for the evil fossil fuel companies. Maybe — the evidence she provides is pretty skimpy — but one statistic she provides is interesting. According to her source, in 2021 the USA employed about 3.2 million people in “clean energy” jobs, and that was 3.5 times more than in fossil fuels. Doing the math, that is about 915,000 working in fossil. I found that difficult to believe.

E2’s report got me wondering about energy production and the associated labor. Labor is, after all, a big part of any industry’s cost. The renewable advocates often crow about how the industries they like are growing, but rarely compare their industries to the competition. Since E2 was talking jobs, I decided to look at actual energy production and the labor to get it. This ignores work that uses, but does not produce, energy; e.g., making electric vehicles or “smart” transmission.

All E2 did was analyze a Department of Energy (DoE) jobs report and publish part of its content. The E2 report includes work that does not directly compare to fossil energy production, but does not seem to do the same thing on the fossil side. For example, E2 cites Energy Star manufacture. An appliance does not care how the electricity it uses was generated. So E2’s analysis compares “apples and oranges.”

The so-called non-renewable sources provide most of our energy. Figure 1 is a US Energy Information (EIA) graph. It does not take any math to see renewable — that is the term I will use from now on, vice “clean” — energy is a fraction of fossil production.

A British thermal unit is a standard unit used to measure energy. By definition, it is the heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of liquid water by 1 degree Fahrenheit at the temperature where water has its greatest density (about 39 degrees Fahrenheit). That is not very much heat, so energy production is typically reported in quadrillions of British thermal units (BTU), or “quads.”

We can address productivity by comparing the British thermal units (BTU) produced to the number of employees in that industry. To do that we need to know our energy consumption by source. These units are in quadrillions of BTU (“quads”).

Figure 1   US production, downloaded from EIA’s web site.

Are the clean energy workers building a power grid, or running a jobs program using shovels, or maybe spoons? Or are the non-renewable industries doing something like that? Are those renewable energy quads produced more efficiently than fossil?

To find out, we must determine how much energy each worker produces for each source. One might think it is a simple comparison. For the most part, that is true. But not always. Although the EIA reports both production and associated manpower, for some renewables it does not use the same terminology. Your tax dollars at work. Manpower reporting also distinguishes between electricity and fuel production. Some other considerations:

•     Biomass, which is lumped together in production, appears in five staffing categories: electricity and four fuel: corn ethanol, biomass, other ethanol, and other biomass. I lumped the staffing together.

•     Natural gas plant liquid (NGPL) is reported separately for production, but is lumped in with all other natural gas for staff reporting. At least, I think that is what the government has done. So that is what I did.

•     There are two types of hydroelectric (hydro) power: conventional and low-impact. “Low impact” in this context means a plant is less environmental destructive than a conventional plant. Low-impact plants have much lower capacity than conventional. As seen in Figure 1, hydro production refers only to conventional hydro. DoE does not report low-impact production, but for some reason it does report staffing. The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has a spreadsheet listing 176 “certified” sites with average annual production of about 555 billion BTU. That’s 0.0555 Quads. No wonder DoE does not report it, but why report the staffing? I’m using the LIHI production and the DoE staffing.

•     Finally, another technology EIA reports on the staffing side is combined heat and power (CHP). These plants are touted as having higher thermodynamic efficiency than conventional plants. Again, the EIA does not report production; but, just to keep an analyst’s life interesting, combines CHP staffing with whatever fuel source the site uses. I did not find any figures for CHP energy production. However, Statista has data on the number of CHP plants: 200. The number of these plants has steadily decreased from 267 in 2010. Most of these plants use natural gas. Find Energy reports 9,352 power plants in the US. With no identifiable production or staffing data and decreasing interest in the technology, I am ignoring CHP as a separate industry.

So, rooting around in lengthy government reports and crunching some numbers, we end up with Table 1. I have added a couple of categories not shown in Figure 1, because the EIA reports do include them. Table 1 pro-rates the energy produced against the total staff count for each sector.

Table 1     Energy Produced Per Employee by Source, 2021

Energy TypeQuads ProducedElectricity Production StaffFuel Production StaffTotal StaffBTUs Produced Per Employee*
Solar1.5333,887 333,8874,492,537,895
Wind3.3120,164 120,16427,462,467,960
Geothermal0.28,222 8,22224,324,981,756
Conventional Hydro2.353,029 53,02943,372,494,296
Low Impact Hydro0.111,485 11,4854,835,872,878
Waste0.211,485 11,48517,414,018,285
Total Renewable12.2550,660107,586658,24618,466,561,134
Natural Gas & NGPL42.5111,196211,773322,969131,591,576,901
Crude Oil23.211,741463,617475,35848,805,321,463
Total Fossil77.3193,768728,702922,47083,796,763,038
Notes: *   These are total BTUs, not quads. Sources:  

Now, that is a lot of really big numbers. To make the situation easier to understand, here is a graph based on Table 1 data, with energy sources sorted by the annual production of each employee in the sector. Figure 2 divides the amount of energy each industry produces by the number of employees working there. It thus gives us a picture of the relative labor cost for each energy source. A higher value in the graph means a lower labor cost per BTU.

Figure 2     Energy Production Per Employee

And it’s not even close. Each natural gas or nuclear worker delivers an order of magnitude more energy than their competitors. I was surprised at where biofuels land. I speculate ethanol is the reason it does that well. Overall, renewable employee productivity is less than 10 percent of non-renewable productivity, so their attendant labor cost per BTU is much higher than non-renewable.

This is a big reason renewable energy costs so much more than our traditional sources. Of course, labor cost is not the only reason.

The clean energy advocates might want us to think they are building a power grid. But they are actually running a jobs program. Shovels or spoons? Based on the numbers, I would say shovels for some industries, spoons for others.

Julius Sanks is an engineer with experience developing weather satellites and weather forecasting systems, among other things.

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Tom Halla
December 9, 2022 10:43 am

Wind and solar are often called subsidy mining, rather than a real attempt to produce electricty.

Bryan A
Reply to  Tom Halla
December 9, 2022 11:24 am

This is because you can command a Gas Generation Facility to increase production levels and within minutes they can. You can demand a Nuclear Facility increase production and, provided they aren’t already at 100% capacity or have a unit down for maintenance or refueling, they can also increase output within minutes.
On the other hand you could ask Solar to increase output and they can’t … they operate at 100% for 4 hours a day or 0% for 18 hours a day.
Or you could ask Wind to increase output but if the air is still or too stormy, they can’t either.
You can only rely on conventional FF powered generation to be able to increase output on demand 24/7/365 as needed.

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  Bryan A
December 10, 2022 8:35 am

Yes, that is exactly what is shown on the AESO page here in Alberta.

Wind and solar never show up in the DCR column (dispatched contingency reserve) because they cannot be reserve.

The grid is forced to take their output when it available and all the reliable generation must scale back to accommodate it.
This is just another subsidy for useless green crap.
And because our gas backup can’t be shut off but just scaled back it runs hugely inefficiently and therefor there are few emissions savings.

Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 11:05 am

If you look at the top picture, you see a lot of wind energy capacity, and not an employee in sight. The employment was mostly in making and installing the equipment. Renewables are rapidly expanding; there has been a lot of that. Coal not so much.

A comparison of this kind is meaningless unless you compare whole of life employment.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 11:11 am

Like job credentials and pay scales for high rise wind tower construction and repair crews and crane operators? The solar rooftop sector needs to count the full-time lobbyists as employees also, since they are the main workforce and loudest at promoting the least efficient part of solar.

Bryan A
Reply to  ResourceGuy
December 9, 2022 11:39 am

They also need to count the vociferous protesters as paid shills against their more reliable competition

Bryan A
Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 11:27 am

Which is why you can’t depend on renewable generation as real jobs in the first place…only temporary make work jobs

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 11:28 am

This is the only nit you could find to pick? Pathetic.

Bryan A
Reply to  karlomonte
December 9, 2022 5:42 pm

He’s always NickPicking

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 11:36 am

a solar “farm” was built behind my ‘hood a decade ago- pretty busy for several weeks building it- haven’t seen anyone out there for 10 years- other than when a large section failed and they had to reinstall the panels

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
December 9, 2022 4:36 pm

You will not have seen the Uighurs making the solar panels or the miners for the various resources from which they are made either.

Ed Reid
Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 12:38 pm

Renewables are expanding because of regulatory pressure and government incentives.
Coal has not been expanding because of regulatory pressure. The US federal government has announced its intention to terminate the coal industry, as well as the oil and natural gas industries.

Apparently FERC and NERC intend to evaluate the impacts of intermittent renewables on grid reliability.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 1:11 pm

Then stop the subsidies and allow “wind energy capacity” to stand on its own two feet, and the results will either vindicate you …or slaughter you. You decide. ( And by the way, don’t forget to include, eg, the impact of mining refining and disposing of all materials used in the manufacturing process, the cost of returning the mined landscapes to its former use and utility by people, the cost of providing for the long term ill health of the individuals involved in that process, as well as the cost of back up spinning capacity when the Sun does not shine – list not exhaustive ) I will leave it to others to expose the sham of renewables (as they are currently employed).

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 1:17 pm

Perhaps you can’t see the forest through the trees, Mr. Stokes.

There is what appears to be a young woman (I’m not a biologist) on the right hand side of the picture. She’s wearing what appears to be a new hardhat and she has what appears to be engineering drawings, plot plans, etc., under her right arm.

Although the picture seems to be staged, she is dressed as an employee.

Reply to  Scissor
December 9, 2022 2:55 pm

To say nothing of the fact that those windmills are a ways off. It would be hard to see someone standing on top. Then again, by far most of the maintenance is performed inside the nacelle. You don’t usually get to the nacelle by climbing up the outside where the wind makes it treacherous. You climb the stairs/ladders attached to the inside of the towers.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Ex-KaliforniaKook
December 9, 2022 4:54 pm

No buildings or shelter are provided for on site staff.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 6:29 pm

From pathetic to abysmal, Nick continues to demonstrate his world class skill in be-clowning himself.

1) Are you actually claiming that you can see the entire complex from that one picture?
2) I see lots of trees, who knows whats below and between them.
3) As pointed out previously, the picture is from a long distance.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 6:47 pm

There is actually quite a bit of working space inside the towers, nacelles and blades, each providing shelter in certain circumstances.

Reply to  Scissor
December 9, 2022 10:42 pm

That’s a quite an interesting video

The most interesting bit is how many turbines were not turning – they couldn’t all have been turned off for maintenance

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 1:26 pm

Its not a valid cost comparison, because it leaves out all the costs (and employment) associated with making the products comparable. So to make a really valid comparison of that sort you would have to include the labor involved in running backup, extending transmission, managing the network with both renewables and conventional…. etc.

The author, however, never claimed to be making a full cost comparison, or reckoning up running costs, and as far at it goes, within his objectives, I think its valid. What its pointing out is that in the present state of the industries involved, some have much higher energy productivity per employee than others.

This is even when you do not insist on including enough staff levels to make the products comparable.

The difference, for instance of gas to wind, is so huge that even leaving this out, even assuming they are delivering comparable product and that all that counts is MWh generated, still you can see that the difference is enormous.

It doesn’t take much more thought to realize that this has significant cost implications.

Now you may say that this is temporary. That when build out of wind and solar has happened, the labor requirements will fall. Its an argument, you’d have to make the case in quantitative terms. What he is saying is that right now that has not happened. Right now there is this enormous difference in productivity.

And I think, given the amount of time and energy we have put into wind and solar, that this is a valid and important point. I don’t see any evidence its going to get much better for renewables. The industry is going to have to reckon with replacements pretty soon. And right now its having to reckon with servicing and maintenance, and that’s going to be an increasing part of the labor burden going forwards as there are more installations. And even if productivity were to double, which would be pretty optimistic, still, the difference will be huge.

And the final point he makes is totally valid. That is, when people talk enthusiastically about the jobs being generated in renewables, they are obscuring the rather disastrous reason for all these jobs. Namely, that renewables are far more labor intensive to generate a given amount of power than conventional.

Its a bit like arguing that hand welding on auto body lines is creating lots of jobs, and thus… the implication is … it must be better than automating.

Well no. Its just an inefficient way of getting the job done. What his numbers are showing is yet another chunk of evidence from a usually overlooked perspective that wind and solar are very labor intensive, and that the job generation people welcome is actually a bad thing.

Milton Friedman would probably say, confronted with wind turbines, why not, if you want to generate jobs while generating your power, pay the whole country to start powering pedal powered generators for a few hours a day?

Dave Andrews
Reply to  michel
December 10, 2022 6:57 am

“renewables are far more labour intensive to generate a given amount of power than conventional”

Yes, and whilst your coal, gas or nuclear plant could well operate for over 40 years or even longer you would have to replace the unreliables at least once or more to reach that age.

George Daddis
Reply to  michel
December 10, 2022 8:53 am

When I lived in South Carolina the area had the largest free bus system in the US (Clemson Area Transit or CAT – sport fans will understand the acronym). They had a very large fleet. They were also located near a Proterra bus manufacturing facility and were one of the first to convert their entire fleet to EBuses. (With massive Federal subsidies of course.)

Same number of buses, same number of drivers, yet the publicists proudly advertised they had created new “green jobs”.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 2:02 pm

Yeah, Nick, a single stock photo is a great data source for determining the number of green energy jobs vs conventional energy jobs.

Last edited 1 month ago by Moriarty
Nick Stokes
Reply to  Moriarty
December 9, 2022 3:26 pm

It makes the point that wind/solar installations do not have on site staff at all. They don’t even provide shelter for them.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 4:45 pm

One wonders who washes the solar panels for peak performance. Probably illegal immigrants who are never seen on site because they are bussed in and out quickly at night.

Last edited 1 month ago by doonman
Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 6:30 pm

Nick doesn’t know whether they need onsite staff or not, he just assumes they don’t because he can’t see any in a single picture from a long way away.
Never let it be said that Nick allows reality get in the way of protecting whatever position he’s paid to take today.

Bryan A
Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 11:56 pm

Your point though that none can be seen in the picture so none exist is unproven by the picture itself. Here’s a video of a relatively small master turbine being installed. Notice at about 2:25 when they’re hoisting the blades up to the nacelle there’s a man inside to make the connections.
At the distance of the top image people would be unnoticeable

B Zipperer
Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 10, 2022 9:25 pm

The Oil/Gas industry does not need on-site staff for their pump jacks either.
Nor do they supply shelters for employees.
So what?
The whole point of the post was to show that renewables are very inefficient energy producers compared to fossil fuels. That should not be controversial. Having a lot of employees that are not very productive is not a good business model. [Did I just describe Twitter? Lol ]
The larger picture is that being dependent on an inefficient & unreliable energy system [RE energy] will just make society more fragile.

IIRC the WSJ reported in 2021 the average solar worker earned just over $50k/yr while the average O/G worker was over $80k/yr.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 3:09 pm

lifecycle analysis for solar? are you serious? my god, do you have no shame? lifecycle analysis for solar shows it takes more energy to mine materials, manufacture, ship, install, maintain, and dispose of than it is likely to produce in its lifetime…nevermind the labor inputs.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  Mantis
December 9, 2022 3:11 pm

Handwaving assertion. But I was talking about lifecycle employment.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 3:31 pm

The master of hand waving, is whining about hand waving.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 3:26 pm

Are you really this desperate Nick, or is it that your knowledge of reality is that weak.
Do you honestly believe that wind and solar can run, for days on end, without any maintenance?
Do you honestly believe that a picture of a single site, at a single moment in time, is more descriptive of reality than are employment records of actual companies?
Renewables are rapidly expanding because government has demanded that it do so.
As always you completely ignore the subsidies and mandates that benefit renewable energy while pretending that the extra taxes and regulatory burdens being heaped on coal don’t exist.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 3:35 pm

… Vapidman strikes again….

It doesnot add up
Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 4:34 pm

I doubt it will provide favours to most renewables. The problem is that wind and solar have short asset lives, so the labour involved in manufacture and getting of raw materials gets diluted over a much smaller volume of output. Hydro will mostly do rather better, but I’m not sure how you account for displacing 1.3 million people to build the Three Gorges Dam: moving them and building new homes and cities is an extra tier of cost.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 4:41 pm

You mean replacing the entire infrastructure every 20 years instead of 40?

Bryan A
Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 9, 2022 11:40 pm

If you look at the top picture you see 11 units spanning about 300-500 acres of land and producing a merger 22MW, about 2MW each. (That’s 4.4KW per acre…gotta love low density energy…Not)
Also looking at the picture you can see 1 employee, HINT she’s wearing the Hard Hat.
Insofar as you can see the bases of a few of the behemoths in the distance, you see no other employees though to be truthful, there could be a dozen near the base of the closest one and you wouldn’t be able to see them. They would be too small to see, no more than a pixel in size.

Iain Reid
Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 10, 2022 12:58 am


in the west true, not much coal but surely you know why and it is not the economics of it?

A comparison of this kind is meaniningless unless you compare political pressure.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 10, 2022 1:03 am

The test is not labor on a site at a point in time. The test is total employment required to run the enterprise engaged in delivering power by wind or solar.

You are making the same error as one of the LCOE errors: leaving out relevant costs, or in this case, relevant staffing.

The test is not MWh per employee on site. Its MWh per employee.

Pat from Kerbob
Reply to  Nick Stokes
December 10, 2022 8:41 am

That picture is from Germany, Nick, all the workers are elsewhere scrambling to restart coal fired plants to hopefully prevent a mass die off event.
And the wind turbines pictured aren’t turning, like they do the majority of the time.
So the people in the pictured country are only “not dead” because the reliable energy sources haven’t been completely destroyed yet.

Last edited 1 month ago by Pat from Kerbob
abolition man
December 9, 2022 11:10 am

Great topic!
More than an incredibly inefficient jobs program, the renewable energy industry is designed to create and reward right thinking Marxist activists! It is just another rung on the ladder that; with our politicians, schools and media; is lowering us down into the pit of Climastrology hell!

December 9, 2022 11:29 am

In my recent post describing the New York Clean Energy Industry Report post I found that their estimate of clean energy jobs included the claim that there are 165,000 employed in New York’s clean energy sector but that “includes all workers that dedicate any amount of their labor hours or work week to clean energy goods and services. As such, an electrician who spends only a quarter of their work week installing or servicing solar panels would be counted as a clean energy worker.”  Throw in a generous definition of a “clean energy” job and it is remarkable that these estimates are so low.

December 9, 2022 11:35 am

Yep, it is. Strip out the tax payer financed subsidies and it will collapse.

December 9, 2022 12:02 pm

Look at all that lovely concrete delivered by huge diesel vehicles driven across clear cut roads.

December 9, 2022 12:07 pm

What an interesting study. Kudos Mr. Sanks.

Over the years, I’ve dabbled in trying to unearth a reasonable definition of exactly what constitutes a “green job”.

I’ve had no reportable success.

The term is universally used by proponents of zero / minimal fossil fuel inputs or emissions, but also often in relation to such long established work as running cabling, for whatever purposes.

This is because as far as I can figure, “green jobs” is a propaganda device, which covers anything & everything that propagandists want to vaguely allude to, and as such it was never meant to be precisely defined. In fact actively avoiding offering any definition(s).

Julius Sanks
Reply to  Mr.
December 9, 2022 12:49 pm

Thank you. I reached the same conclusion regarding “clean” jobs. Regarding jobs, the US Energy & Employment Jobs Report (USEER) I cited early in the text addresses the entire energy economy. It looks at vehicles, efficiency (e.g., HVAC), transmission, and a lot of other stuff. I focused on energy production, e.g., coal, wind, etc. It lists a great many different types of work for each topic. E.g., manufacturing, maintenance, etc. It uses NAICS to sort everything out. Difficult to sift through, but the material is there. So I’m pretty comfortable with the job data I cite. Would not have written this piece otherwise. If there is a better source I have not found it either.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Mr.
December 9, 2022 6:59 pm

I think Portugal demonstrated the “green energy effect” perfectly. Essentially, for every “green job” that they “created” THREE REAL JOBS WERE LOST. (The real jobs being those someone would actually pay to have done without taxpayer subsidies.)

This is not difficult to understand. Energy costs “necessarily skyrocket” (where have I heard that before?), and economic activity and prosperity moves to where energy is affordable and reliable.

December 9, 2022 1:25 pm

“We are in the last moments of being able to save the planet from the worst effects of climate change.” Lord Debden, 7 December 2022.
(At 2.36)

Last edited 1 month ago by CampsieFellow
It doesnot add up
Reply to  CampsieFellow
December 9, 2022 4:42 pm

We should have had the last moments of Deben running the Climate Change Committee in September. They haven’t found a replacement for him yet. Perhaps the CCC will die when he pops his clogs.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  It doesnot add up
December 10, 2022 7:04 am

Is that because they haven’t found anybody as venal and stupid?

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  CampsieFellow
December 9, 2022 7:33 pm

Once again, December 7th is a date that will live in infamy.

December 9, 2022 2:12 pm

Alternate energy is neither clean, green nor renewable. It’s not less expensive than conventional energy, either, but I digress. Do the solar panels and turbines renew themselves? Why do we fall for using these misleading labels?

December 9, 2022 2:34 pm

In the 1960″s when I was growing up, women sitting by the roadside cracking river stones with with hammers was a common sight. I went back in 2004, I saw the same. My hosts informed me this provided work for the poor and that a mechanical crusher would take this away.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Fran
December 9, 2022 7:37 pm

“What did we use for transport before horses and carts, grandpa?”


“And what did we use for light before candles, grandpa?”


AGW is Not Science
December 9, 2022 2:40 pm

More like a “welfare program” than a “jobs program.” Only the recipients get to pretend they do something useful, while in fact they are nothing more than parasites on the actually useful parts of our energy infrastructure.

December 9, 2022 4:44 pm

It’s more than a jobs program — it’s a spending program, an infinite spending program. It’s what is hoped will prevent the over-leveraged world financial system from complete collapse. Fighting the hostile elements is a never-ending project.

December 10, 2022 6:28 am

Think long term big picture. People will not have jobs. Assembly lines, robots, and AI will do all the busy work. The only paying professions other than the health and death care industry and big pharma (fighting diseases accidentally released from development labs) will be prostitution and professional sports, and these professions are limited to a fraction of the population. All the other people will need to have goals and focus in their lives. And the elites have decided that clearing solar panels of dust and snow, and gathering deadfall for heating, planting trees and grooming of parks will be those new jobs.

….worried about whether this is a /s comment or not….

Last edited 1 month ago by DMacKenzie
Reply to  DMacKenzie
December 10, 2022 12:17 pm

150 years ago, over 90% of the population either worked on the farm, or directly supported those who did.
Today only a couple of percent of the population works in jobs that are farm related. Many of the rest work at jobs nobody could have dreamed of 150 years ago.

There will always be knowledge workers and those who create services that people want to buy.
Another thing is that as things get more automated, costs go down, so that individuals don’t have to work as much in order to afford the basics.

150 years ago, an entire family had to work, pretty much dawn to dusk, 6 days a week, in order to eke out a fairly meager lifestyle. Today, it is possible for a single worker to support a family while only working 40 hours a week.

Bruce Cobb
December 10, 2022 6:54 am

Speaking of pirates, it’s Friedman, not Freeman.

Julius Sanks
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
December 10, 2022 9:41 am

Yes, my bad. I know it’s Friedman. Noticed that after the post went live. Not sure if it was bad typing or autocorrect. I cannot fix the post, though. WUWT has to fix it, if they want to.

Last edited 1 month ago by Julius Sanks
Julius Sanks
Reply to  Julius Sanks
December 10, 2022 10:03 am

H/T to CTM for fixing Friedman’s name. He also caught a typo that I had missed.

Pat from Kerbob
December 10, 2022 8:29 am

I did a similar quick analysis on the canadian economy a few years ago just by perusing online government stats.
Oil&gas in that previous year contributed about 11% of Canada’s GDP, while employing less than 2% of the workforce. A better than 5:1 multiplier.
I compared a few other sectors but found none that were even half as productive as oil and gas.

Renewables would be a negative return as all that involves is construction jobs setting up 99% imported components

George Daddis
December 10, 2022 8:42 am

When you need multiple times the labor to produce the SAME amount of energy it does not take a sophisticated analysis to understand something is not quite right.
Yet at one time, countries like Spain actually bragged that they used 3 times the labor to replace existing fossil fuels.

December 10, 2022 5:56 pm

I was told last April at an engineering conference that there are 12 million people working in the crude oil, natural gas, and coal industries in the USA. Three years ago there were 15 million people working in the fossil fuel industries in the USA. Lots of retirements and layoffs due to the Covid.

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