We need jobs, and lots of them: unemployment is dropping but it’s a long road back to the days of 5% unemployment, and we’re not going to get there for a very long time. So where will the jobs come from? The old standbys of healthcare, IT, and education, will continue to add jobs, but there are more interesting and less obvious areas that will spur job creation.
Perhaps the most interesting are in energy, manufacturing, and robotics.
Nuclear plants and the jobs associated with them — construction, operators, engineers, technicians, etc. – are another area related to energy that will generate jobs. Some 60 reactors are under construction worldwide, with that number expected to double in the next decade, including about 20 that are planned for the U.S. American companies are the dominant suppliers of components and expertise for building and operating these.
Now to alternative energy: wind, solar, etc. Well, don’t hold your breath for a lot of green jobs. There are virtually no commercially viable green technologies in existence. Three recent examples can illustrate why green energy is a pie in the sky for now. Range Fuels, which failed despite $400 million in funding, half of which came from the government; Evergreen Solar, which recently closed its doors after $685 million in losses and $60 million in taxpayer support; and finally the failure of T. Boone Pickens’ wind power venture ($2 billion). The simple fact is that green technologies are still in their infancy and incapable of producing jobs in any meaningful quantity (except for liquidators) without being subsidized by the government. All those Chevy Volts and Nissan Leafs are going to have to be charged by energy from plants burning coal.
Then again, maybe it’ll be done by robots.