Green Jobs

A recent study indicates that green jobs account for a larger segment of the economy, and contribute to greater economic growth.

Report: The Greener The Industry, The Higher The Job Growth Rate Over The Last Decade

Green jobs may be more abundant and important to a diverse economy than previously thought, according to a study recently published by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). The report, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), indicated that industries that support green jobs benefited from a higher rate of growth compared to industries with fewer green jobs.

Report Shows Green Industries Have Higher Growth Rate

Green jobs produce economic growthData published in March 2012 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was used to analyze growth in the sector over between 2000 and 2010, and make projections for the future. A major part of this data set included stronger definitions of what may be deemed a “green” job. Traditional thinking has always held that it is simply a matter of fossil-fuel jobs and clean-energy jobs. The subject is in fact much more complex and involves a much larger segment of jobs than previously thought.

“Green Jobs”

The sector of the economy with many green jobs is the Green Goods and Services (GGS) and accounted for 2.4% of total U.S. employment in 2010, or 3.1 million jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has tried to define a new, more comprehensive definition for green jobs.

Loosely stated as “jobs that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources”, Green Goods and Services jobs fall into five groups:

  • renewable energy
  • energy efficiency
  • pollution reduction and removal
  • natural resource conservation
  • environmental compliance, training and public awareness

With this expanded definition green jobs can be more easily seen for their value. Notable points from the BLS data include that green jobs are supporting manufacturing and construction, two of the hardest hit segments of the economy, that green jobs outnumber fossil fuel jobs 4 to 1, and that green jobs are diverse and are regional economic drivers.

Green As An Economic Driver

The Economic Policy Institute report also revealed other points that support green jobs. Ethan Pollack, a Senior Policy Analyst with the EPI, took a closer look at how environmental and efficiency incentives impacted job growth. For the decade between 2000 and 2010, he found that for every additional percentage point of increased “green intensity”, the given industry experienced a 0.034 percentage point increase in job growth. Projections through 2020 show similar job growth increases for green sector jobs. Other notable findings from the data set include states with greater green intensity have generally fared better during the economic downturn, green jobs are accessible to workers across a large swath of fields and companies, while manufacturing is also a big player in the green economy.

These finding are very similar to a study by the Brookings Institution released in 2011. They found by tracking these sectors from 2008-2009 that the clean economy grew by 8.3%. Jobs in this sector account for more jobs than the biosciences and fossil fuel sectors, and pay better wages than the national median. In addition almost half of the jobs held in the sector are by people with a high school diploma or less.

The goal of the report is to point out that green jobs do not fall under a black and white definition, and are all around us in a variety of capacities. The authors hope that the issue can be depoliticized and want to look at ways to continue creating diverse jobs across the economy.

Image Credit: swisscan

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