Someone critical of the new study suggesting the peripheral tunnels and habitat restoration will create more than 136,000 jobs dropped me an email today.
“A total of 56,307 people were involved in building the Panama Canal during its 14 year construction period,” he writes. “Around 12,000 were from Europe, 31,000 were from the West Indies and 11,000 were from the United States. The rest were of unknown origin.”
Another example? The Transcontinental Railroad required only 30,000 workers, he writes.
Every project is different, of course, especially when built a century or more apart, and we do need to be careful with the figures in the new jobs study for the Delta. The job estimates are annualized, meaning that each “job” is full-time work for one person for one year. It’s not like these are 136,000-plus long-term or permanent jobs.
Anyway, the mere fact that a project creates jobs does not justify it, as the University of the Pacific’s Jeff Michael told me yesterday.
“Building things creates jobs,” he said. “It’s an indisputable fact, right? But there’s questions about how many and at what expense.”
Job creation is not a good reason to build the project, he said, and indeed, officials with the Bay Delta Conservation Plan say that’s not the goal. The purpose of BDCP is to improve the Delta’s ecosystem and secure the state’s water supply.
“But the job potential is both real and encouraging,” BDCP spokeswoman Karla Nemeth wrote in a blog post.