Green Jobs for Labor Day

Brookings Sizes it up

Bill Opalka | Sep 01, 2011

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The justification for clean energy in recent years has been the promise of green jobs, especially since the recession hit three years ago. Getting a handle on how many, beyond simple counts like solar installers and wind turbine assemblers, is a bit trickier.

The Brookings Institution tried to bring some order out of this apparent chaos with a recent report, “Sizing the Clean Economy.” 

“Not only do “green” or “clean” activities and jobs related to environmental aims pervade all sectors of the U.S. economy; they also remain tricky to define and isolate—and count,” the report says.

The lack of standard definitions and available data is only a start. So the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings worked with Battelle’s Technology Partnership Practice to develop a detailed database of establishment-level employment statistics pertaining to a sensibly defined assemblage of clean economy industries in the United States and its metropolitan areas.

As has been reported here previously, many clean energy jobs have been created when industrial companies in the Midwest were forced to find new markets when their footholds in the auto markets eroded.  Think boltmakers for wind turbines, glass makers for solar farms. Most clean economy jobs reside in mature segments.

A smaller portion of the clean economy encompasses newer segments  like solar photovoltaic (PV), wind, fuel cell, smart grid, biofuel, and battery industries.

Other highlights include:

The clean economy is manufacturing and export intensive. Roughly 26 percent of all clean economy jobs lie in manufacturing establishments, compared to just 9 percent in the broader economy.

The clean economy offers more opportunities and better pay for low- and middle-skilled workers than the national economy as a whole. Median wages in the clean economy—meaning those in the middle of the distribution—are 13 percent higher than median U.S. wages. Yet a disproportionate percentage of jobs in the clean economy are staffed by workers with relatively little formal education in moderately well-paying “green collar” occupations.

Most of the country’s clean economy jobs and recent growth concentrate within the largest metropolitan areas. Some 64 percent of all current clean economy jobs and 75 percent of its newer jobs created from 2003 to 2010 congregate in the nation’s 100 largest metro areas.

Strong industry clusters boost metros’ growth performance in the clean economy. Clustering entails proximity to businesses in similar or related industries. Establishments located in counties containing a significant number of jobs from other establishments in the same segment grew much faster than more isolated establishments from 2003 to 2010. Examples include professional environmental services in Houston, solar photovoltaic in Los Angeles, fuel cells in Boston, and wind in Chicago.

One caveat is that policy uncertainty is taking its toll. Market demand for clean economy goods and services is uncertain, impacting the financial markets. In the meantime, global investment has been moving to foreign shores, which is an old story in itself.


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Comments

The Green Jobs Fantasy

I have spent my entire career in renewable energy development, but one has to face reality. The green jobs movement is a fantasy. While we should do everything we can to develop renewable energy, the notion that it will create lots of jobs is nonsense, especially when we see what China is doing to our wind and solar manufacturing companies, namely putting them out of business. Manufacturing is the backbone of a healthy economy and we have systematically dismantled it for short-term profit and long-term economic disaster. If we want to create energy jobs that the Chinese can't steal, we unfortunately have only one place to turn to. We have to develop the oil, natural gas, and coal that is OUR energy and will create jobs here in the U.S. If you want to see that just look at the boom in jobs creation going on right now in the oil fields in North Dakota. The number of jobs that will be created in the Marcellus natural gas area alone will outpace all the green jobs projected. It's time for the green movement, as much as I favor it, to just get over it. We need jobs in the U.S. We cannot continue to survive in a situation that allows the Chinese and other countries to steal our jobs with their phony currency and government declared war on our economy that is aided and abetted by the greedy short-term thinking of most large companies, both manufacturing and retail.

The Green Jobs Fantasy

I have spent my entire career in renewable energy development, but one has to face reality. The green jobs movement is a fantasy. While we should do everything we can to develop renewable energy, the notion that it will create lots of jobs is nonsense, especially when we see what China is doing to our wind and solar manufacturing companies, namely putting them out of business. Manufacturing is the backbone of a healthy economy and we have systematically dismantled it for short-term profit and long-term economic disaster. If we want to create energy jobs that the Chinese can't steal, we unfortunately have only one place to turn to. We have to develop the oil, natural gas, and coal that is OUR energy and will create jobs here in the U.S. If you want to see that just look at the boom in jobs creation going on right now in oil fields in North Dakota. The number of jobs that will created in the Marcellus natural gas area alone will outpace all the green jobs projected. It's time for the green movement, as much as I favor it, to just get over it. We need jobs in the U.S. We cannot continue to survive in a situation that allows the Chinese and other countries to steal our jobs with their phony currency and government declared war on our economy that is aided and abetted by the greedy short-term thinking of most large companies, both manufacturing and retail.

Green energy etc..

I agree with the posted opinion. I am translating into french a wondeful booh, "the false promise of green energy" from Prof.Andrew P.Morris & al which highlights clearly all that hot air stuff..

Bonne lecture!!

Green Jobs

Even if it were possible to agree on a practical method of defining and counting "Green Jobs" it would be pointless, because we can never measure how many other jobs were eliminated or never created due to the investments in "Clean Technologies" that could have been put to other (more productive) uses.  

The news this week includes that of a California solar panel manufacturer going bankrupt after taking over $500 million in government funds meant to support "Clean Energy".  If this money had instead been applied to some productive effort, many jobs would have been created or supported.  These "missing jobs" will never be counted in any effort to measure "Green Jobs".

Correct!

I find it curious how the "Greens" can/will "calculate" every emissions contribution down to the last ppm...but REFUSE to acknowledge the economic short comings of their green initiatives.

IIn this failing, the "green community" appears a fraud....a fact that cheapens the entire credibility of the "movement", even where credibility exists.