Green Jobs are Growing Our Economy

By Frank Sherman,                                                                                                         cross-posted with Terrain Consulting+Design

Jobs and economic growth are centerpiece topics of the current election cycle. What is not in that discussion is the role that green jobs play in rebuilding our economy. Green jobs are not only rebuilding America’s economy, but are transforming it as well. The rise of the “Clean Economy” is underway while the titans of the fossil fuel economy fight to maintain the status quo.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics came out with a report in March 2012 indicating that as of November 2011, there were 3.1 million green jobs in this country. The clean economy is clearly a sector of job growth. The Economic Policy Institute recently released an excellent study based on the BLS report titled: “Counting Up to Green: Assessing the green economy and its implications for growth and equity“. The report’s author Ethan Pollack states that the BLS data indicates several findings:

  • Greener industries grow faster than the overall economy
  • States with greater green intensity have generally fared better in the current economic downturn
  • Green jobs are accessible to workers without a college degree
  • Manufacturing plays a strong role in the green economy
  • Green jobs go beyond the renewable energy industry

Although there is still some general confusion about what constitutes a green job, the BLS data and the EPI report underpin a strong argument that the Country’s future economic health is tied to the growing clean economy.

The American workforce, hard hit by the Bush era policies and ensuing great recession, is retraining for new jobs. New job opportunities, as evidenced by emerging data, are in the green job sector. In response to this trend, state worker retraining programs, universities, community colleges, not-for-profits, and private sector training companies such as CleanEdison are providing the training and skills green jobs require. The decline in company investment in employee skills-training has been evident for the past decade. The new paradigm is for workers to seek out the training they need from other sources.

As more and more people take the initiative to develop  marketable skills for a growing clean economy, the inevitable question arises: Where are the jobs? EPI’s report provides some answers:

Opportunities are out there. Green jobs are powering our Country’s economic recovery. Green jobs and the clean economy are the catalyst for a shift that will transform America’s economy in the 21st century. The transformation across a wide swath of industries, from transportation and manufacturing, to financial services, hospitality and retail is already underway. Entrepreneurship is harnessing green technology to create new companies and whole new  industries. Green jobs are out there for workers with the skills and vision to succeed.

Graphics courtesy of the Economic Policy Institute, all rights reserved.

Frank Sherman is an architect and green consultant based in Philadelphia PA. Frank is East Coast managing partner of Alpine Green Solutions, a national green building and energy efficiency consulting company, and maintains a design and consulting practice Terrain Consulting+Design focused on green building design and construction. Frank is a green building expert, educator, and aspiring bee keeper.