If the presidential candidates wanted to make useful points about the future energy
economy, one might be the value added if we switch to new sources. Here are some typical wages for low-end energy jobs and prospective replacements.
A Coal Mine Worker earns an average wage of $21.63 per hour. People in this job generally don't have more than 20 years' experience. Experience has a moderate effect on salary for this job. A rooftop installer of solar panels earns about the same amount and works where no explosive dust fills the air or the worker's lungs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 51,540 (oil field) roustabouts employed nationwide as of May 2011. These workers earned an average of $34,680 a year, or $16.67 an hour. Those working specifically in the oil and gas extraction industry earned $35,590 a year, or $17.11 an hour, on average, about 3 percent higher than the overall average for the profession. One ad reviewed today for 9 positions in a single solar project management firm averaged just under $40,000, ranging from $27,000 to $57,000 per year.
Even the briefest review of the old extractive and new implementation industries shows more potential for the latter, and the number of positions is growing rather than shrinking. States like West Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana and others relying on old modes of energy production should now be looking at investing in education for the new world of non-fossil-fuel modes, and the candidates should be more specific in defining the types of programs they will implement to move in that direction. Of course one can anticipate that the major party candidates will take very different views of the options available.