Pew Study: Green Jobs Growing More Than Twice as Fast as All Other Jobs

Filed under: Green Jobs & Careers,Policy | |

The Pew Charitable Trusts has conducted the first-ever hard count across all 50 states of the actual jobs, companies and venture capital investments that supply the growing market demand for environmentally friendly products and services.  The study, entitled The CleanEconomy: Repowering Jobs, Businesses and Investments Across America, revealed  that the number of jobs in America’s emerging clean energy economy grew nearly two and a half times faster than overall jobs between 1998 and 2007.

While traditional jobs grew by only 3.7 percent between 1998 and 2007, Pew found that jobs in the clean energy economy grew at a national rate of 9.1 percent.  There were similar trends at the state level, where job growth in the clean energy economy outperformed overall job growth in 38 states and the District of Columbia during the same period.  The report also found that this  sector is poised to expand significantly, driven by increasing consumer demand, venture capital infusions, and federal and state policy reforms.

Despite a lack of sustained government support in the past decade, the clean energy industry has grown dramatically. By 2007, more than 68,200 businesses across all 50 states and the District of Columbia accounted for about 770,000 jobs in the fledgling industry . By comparison, the well-established fossil-fuel sector—including utilities, coal mining and oil and gas extraction, industries that have received significant government investment—comprised about 1.27 million workers in 2007.

“The clean energy economy is poised for explosive growth,” said Lori Grange, interim deputy director of the Pew Center on the States.  “These jobs are driving economic growth and environmental sustainability at a time when America needs both.  There is a potential competitive advantage for federal and state policy leaders who act now to spur jobs, businesses and investments in the clean energy sector.”

Pew’s definition of the clean energy economy is based on research and input from experts in the field, including an advisory panel convened to help guide the study.  According to Pew, “a clean energy economy generates jobs, businesses and investments while expanding clean energy production, increasing energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, waste and pollution, and conserving water and other natural resources.”

It comprises five categories:

(1) Clean Energy

(2) Energy Efficiency

(3) Environmentally Friendly Production,

(4) Conservation and Pollution Mitigation

(5) Training and Support

The definition provides a groundbreaking framework for tracking jobs, investments and economic growth over time and allowing the public and private sector to evaluate the effectiveness of policy choices and investments.  The report finds that the emerging clean energy economy is creating well-paying jobs in every state for people of all skill levels and educational backgrounds.  Included in Pew’s definition are jobs as diverse as engineers, plumbers, administrative assistants, construction workers, machine setters, marketing consultants, teachers and many others, with annual incomes ranging from $21,000 to $111,000.

The private sector views the clean energy economy as a significant and expanding market opportunity.  Venture capital investment in clean technology crossed the $1 billion threshold in 2005 and continued to grow substantially, reaching a total of about $12.6 billion by the end of 2008.  In 2008 alone, investors directed $5.9 billion into American businesses in the clean energy economy, a figure that represents a 48 percent increase over 2007 investment totals and accounts for 15 percent of all global venture capital investments.

Federal and state lawmakers also see the sector as helping to spur America’s economic recovery and protect the environment.  States will receive a major infusion of federal funds through the recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which allocates nearly $85 billion in direct spending and tax incentives for energy- and transportation-related programs.  Additionally, every state offers some form of financial incentive to drive its clean energy economy.  Twenty-three states have adopted regional initiatives to reduce the global warming pollution from power plants, 46 states offer some form of tax incentive to encourage residents and corporations to use renewable energy or adopt energy efficiency systems and equipment, and 29 states and the District of Columbia have established renewable portfolio standards, which require electricity providers to supply a minimum amount of power from renewable energy sources.

You can view an interactive state-by-state map and get in-depth information about eight businesses that are part of this growing clean energy economy on the Pew Environment Group’s Global Warming site.   Pew has also posted company snap shots and state governors’ response to the report. Fact Sheets for each state are also available for download.

© 2009, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Tracey de Morsella (323 Articles)

Tracey de Morsella started her career working as an editor for US Technology Magazine. She used that experience to launch Delaware Valley Network, a publication for professionals in the Greater Philadelphia area. Years later, she used the contacts and resources she acquired to work in executive search specializing in technical and diversity recruitment. She has conducted recruitment training seminars for Wachovia Bank, the Department of Interior and the US Postal Service. During this time, she also created a diversity portal called The Multicultural Advantage and published the Diversity Recruitment Advertising Toolkit, a directory of recruiting resources for human resources professionals. Her career and recruitment articles have appeared in numerous publications and web portals including Woman Engineer Magazine, Monster.com, About.com Job Search Channel, Workplace Diversity Magazine, Society for Human Resource Management web site, NSBE Engineering Magazine, HR.com, and Human Resource Consultants Association Newsletter. Her work with technology professionals drew her to pursuing training and work in web development, which led to a stint at Merrill Lynch as an Intranet Manager. In March, she decided to combine her technical and career management expertise with her passion for the environment, and with her husband, launched The Green Economy Post, a blog providing green career information and covering the impact of the environment, sustainable building, cleantech and renewable energy on the US economy. Her sustainability articles have appeared on Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation, Chem.Info,FastCompany and CleanTechies.

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  • http://geothermalspecialists.net Stan

    I think it is fantastic how we are using renewable energy and going green in so many ways. I think we also need to do things like reducing our energy usage, like installing geothermal heat pumps to replace high energy heating and cooling systems.