According to a recent survey conducted by California’s Employment Development Department, the state has nearly half a million workers spending at least half or part of their time on green products or services. The goal of the study was to establish baselines of green employment and green business practices in California. Similar surveys found 3.3 percent of the labor force working at green jobs in Washington State, and 3.0 percent in Oregon and Michigan, some of the first states including California to complete surveys focused on green jobs.
The survey counted the number of green jobs, which were defined as those producing goods or services that result in “GREEN” or:
# Generating and restoring renewable energy
# Recycling existing materials
# Energy efficient product manufacturing, distribution, construction, installation and maintenance
# Education, compliance and awareness
# Natural and sustainable product manufacturin
While the focus of the survey was on green jobs, it also found that 63 percent of employers use at least one sustainable business practice. Of these, 80 percent recycle, 50 percent use recycled products, and nearly 40 percent use energy efficient practices. The manufacturing sector was the leading employer in the California survey, with over 93,000 workers in green jobs out of the total of close to 500,000 jobs with at least some responsibilities related to green products or services. It was followed by construction with nearly 68,000 green jobs; scientific and technical services administrative and support, with about 43,000 jobs; waste management and remediation services, with nearly 39,000 jobs; and wholesale trade, with over 34,000 jobs.
Green jobs range from simple changes in existing jobs such as a laborer who carefully dismantles materials for recycling purposes and architects who design energy efficient buildings, to newly developed jobs like solar installers, biomass collectors, and wind turbine technicians.
The survey identified some of the top occupations involved in producing green products and services, including carpenters working in green activities; hazardous waste removal workers; farm workers in sustainable agriculture; assemblers of green products; recycling center operators; electricians and plumbers in green activities; architects; industrial production managers; biomass collectors; alternative fuel vehicle technicians; health and safety managers; alternative fuel vehicle engineering and management; and transportation program specialists.
The survey also showed that 8.6 percent of employers have employees working on green products and services. It also revealed that three-quarters of current green workers were trained on the job.
Further information on the survey is available online at
© 2010, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.