Employment, Energy, and the Environment
(Natural Resource, Energy, and Environmental Policy)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
This session of “Employment, Energy, and the Environment” brings together differently-trained individuals from different universities, both in the US and in Canada, to share their research at this intersection of employment with energy resources and the environment. To begin with, the extraction of energy resources may lead to increases in employment and earnings during energy price booms and reductions in these labor market outcomes during busts, with most studies finding that these gains exist at least when aggregated to a locality.
Our first paper instead follows a panel of individuals over time across US states (with the PSID) to see how they are affected by resource booms and busts. The authors conclude that more income is lost in busts than is gained in booms. Therefore, the “blessing” of having energy resources, previously shown at the aggregate level, seems more like a “curse” at the individual level, meaning that the gains to local areas mostly go to non-residents instead of residents.
Our second paper goes down to the state-level of Colorado to see how the rules about the distance of an oil and gas well from inhabited dwellings or environmental assets (also known as setbacks) and what those rules mean for jobs. The authors find that the larger the setback, the more resources would be deemed off limits. These setbacks could be somewhat increased in distance at a very low employment cost, but employment losses increase substantially at a greater distance. More specifically, the current setback policies are setting the distance too high.
Our third paper moves over the border to Canada to show that even nationwide environmental policies can have significant local labor market impacts, especially where industries known to pollute are heavily concentrated. In order to be very specific about the labor-environment tradeoffs, the authors quantify the local pollution reductions from the policy with the losses in employment, hours worked, and wages. These costs represent the lower bound policy effects.
Our fourth paper returns to the US to see how employment could also increase with environmental spending through the creation of “green jobs”. This makes the examination of the effects on the mix of employment across industry and occupations more interesting. The authors define “green general skills” (from the O*NET) to answer two specific questions: Did targeted green stimulus affect employment? Do those effects depend on the skill level in the local workforce? The answer is yes, and it works the way you think it would.
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