CAP Counts ‘Indirect Jobs’ in Green Energy, Ignores Them for Oil and Gas

Group applies more stringent standard for industries it doesn’t like
Gas well in Colorado / AP

Gas well in Colorado / AP


The Center for American Progress said on Wednesday that an accurate accounting of jobs created by the oil and gas industry requires excluding “indirect jobs” created by it, but the group has included such jobs in its calculations of green energy employment.

CAP released a paper on Wednesday attacking figures from the American Petroleum Institute showing that the oil and gas sector supports, directly and indirectly, more than nine million American jobs.

CAP research associate Mari Hernandez claimed a more accurate number is less than two million.

“Our employment count does not include indirect jobs created by the oil and gas industry, such as those in the electric utility industry, because these estimates are often subjective and can be difficult to quantify,” Hernandez explained.

However, the group’s employment statistics for other industries take a less stringent approach.

Numerous CAP papers, many supporting additional federal support for various green energy projects, include the “indirect jobs” number in their employment projections.

“The renewable projects receiving [Energy Department section 1603] grant funds created direct jobs as well as the indirect jobs generated in the local economies where the projects are located,” wrote CAP scholars in one paper.

Reports on conservation of public lands, “clean energy manufacturing,” and federal infrastructure spending have also touted “indirect” job creation.

One CAP study even examined “direct, indirect, and induced jobs created by the conservation economy.”

The group has cried foul when other analysts have failed to account for “indirect jobs” in their assessments of employment in green energy sectors.

“Only jobs created directly from Recovery Act funds are reported—and then only from prime contractors and recipients—potentially leaving millions of indirect jobs uncounted,” CAP complained in one report on employment resulting from President Barack Obama’s stimulus package.

Other reports have even compared indirect job creation in green energy sectors. “Clean energy creates anywhere from two to four times more direct and indirect jobs compared to the same investment in oil and gas production,” one claimed.

“These induced impacts … are often debatable and highly dependent on economic conditions,” Hernandez wrote in her Wednesday paper. But CAP appears to place enough stock in such calculations to include them where they support the group’s agenda.

API spokesman Eric Wohlschlegel said Hernandez’s report uses “a self serving willy-nilly methodology. … Everyone else in town, including the federal government” uses the same employment calculation methodology as API, he said.

“Even my 7 year old nephew could have calculated our job creating impact better,” than Hernandez, Wohlschlegel added. “Perhaps the author of their report could benefit from a basic economics course?”

Hernandez did not return a request for comment by press time.

CAP has also touted jobs “saved or created” by the stimulus, a metric used by the Obama administration that many observers say is misleading and designed to inflate employment numbers.

Lachlan Markay   Email | Full Bio | RSS
Lachlan Markay is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He comes to the Beacon from the Heritage Foundation, where he was the conservative think tank's first investigative reporter. He was also a contributing editor for His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, and the Washington Examiner. He graduated from Hamilton College in 2009, and currently lives in Washington, D.C. His Twitter handle is @lachlan. His email address is

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