Although there are a lot of questions surrounding green job creation, including exactly how the money from the Recovery Act was spent, it is important to note that the number of eco-friendly careers in the United States continues to rise. In fact, in 2011, green jobs exploded, as the Stimulus helped improve energy efficiency and increased the amount of clean energy. In particular, the manufacturing and construction fields benefited from this growth, two industries that suffered a number of setbacks when the economy crumbled.
When people speak of job growth, healthcare is almost always mentioned as a success story; however, in 2011, green jobs increased by nearly five percent, surpassing all other sectors. In fact, healthcare only grew by about two percent during the same time period, while the food service industry increased by about two and a half percent. Therefore, while the growth in the healthcare field is certainly something to be proud of, more should be made about the rising number of green jobs.
The West Coast offers a significant number of green jobs, particularly in California. In 2011, ten states had over 100,000 green positions, including North Carolina, Texas, Washington and New York. Eco-friendly jobs are particularly prominent in both the construction and manufacturing sectors. For example, they comprise about nine percent of all construction jobs and just over four percent of all manufacturing positions. Typically, any job that produces an eco-friendly good or service is considered to be “green”; for instance, a Rochester pest control technician that uses an integrated pest management approach or an architect that designs a building to have a small environmental impact are both working in eco-friendly positions.
Approximately four years ago, the American Recovery Act was initiated, and it resulted in an increase in investments that led to a number of new green jobs. President Obama said that over the next ten years, he wanted five million new eco-friendly jobs to be created. At the time, based on the number and amount of investments, his statement seemed extremely plausible. However, investments have dropped, hurting a variety of programs that the Recovery Act was supporting. For example, weatherization created quite a few new green jobs, but it no longer receives the type of funding that was provided back in 2009.
It is hard to know where things will go from here. While great progress has been made, some setbacks are starting to arise. For example, government jobs are being slashed across the board, likely impacting the number of green professionals who work at this level. In addition, there will be no green job report from 2012 for the foreseeable future, as the sequester put plans for its creation on hold. Still, there is good news; the solar industry continues to add jobs at a remarkable rate.