In a generally bleak employment picture, the green jobs sector is growing faster than any other. By 2007, a Pew Charitable Trusts report on the Clean Energy Economy counted 770,000 jobs in all 50 states that met the "double bottom line" of economic growth and environmental sustainability. Clean energy economy jobs grew by 9.1% between 1998 and 2007, compared to just 3.7% in overall job growth in those years (before the markets crashed). Venture capital investment -- thin on the ground throughout the economy now -- totaled $12.6 billion in the clean tech sector between 2006 and 2009.
A new report from the Global Climate Network (composed of nine think tanks, including the Center for American Progress) predicts that the world's eight leading economies will create 20 million new jobs between now and 2020. In the U.S., the report said, the stimulus package and the American Clean Energy and Security Act could help create as many as 1.9 million new green jobs in the period. The move to a "smart grid" could create 270,000 jobs, and a further 138,000 if U.S. smart grid technologies are exported to a global market, the report said.
On the downside, a study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, Spain says that for every job created with energy price supports, 2.2 are lost in other industries. According to Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the university, each Spanish green job cost $774,000.
But PRTM global management consultants takes issue with that conclusion, explaining that jobs building green energy and electric vehicles are part of a global race. "The rest of the world is not going to wait when it comes to EVs and green energy, and jobs will be created somewhere," said PRTM's Oliver Hazimeh, who heads the firm's global e-mobility practice. "If the U.S. doesn't capture these jobs, then they may be lost to other markets, which could lead to a result similar to what occurred in Spain."
The federal stimulus bill contained more than $30 billion for clean energy, and the mantra espoused by now-deposed green jobs czar Van Jones was that the new positions should go to freshly trained Americans from some of the hardest-hit jobless populations. With unemployment over 10%, people need to go where the jobs are, and some states -- and some cities -- are making out better than others as the green jobs phenomenon unfolds. While every state and most American cities have a piece of the new economy, here are the five cities that -- through a combination of federal, state and municipal programs -- are faring best.
According to the Pew report, 65% of the national clean energy jobs in 2007 went to conservation and pollution mitigation -- by far the largest category. Clean energy accounted for 11.6% of new jobs in the period, energy efficiency for 9.5%, environmentally friendly production 7%, and training and support 6.8%. But environmentally friendly production saw the most growth: Up 67% from 1998 to 2007 (followed by clean energy, up 23%).
Of the top 10 clean-tech employers around the world identified by Clean Edge, four are in the U.S. (in Illinois, Washington, Arkansas and California). Clean Edge defines the top five sectors for clean-tech jobs in the U.S. as (in descending order): solar, biofuels and biomaterials, conservation and efficiency, smart grid and wind power. There's a long way to go. Only in Oregon are green jobs more than one percent of total employment (and it's only 1.02% of the 1.9 million jobs there).
New York leads the country in its low rate of car ownership, and more than 80% of its residents use public transportation. Population density helps the city use fewer resources and put less stress on the environment than other more spread-out metropolises. Under newly reelected Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the city launched PlaNYC with 127 initiatives for greening the city, including a move to dramatically improve air quality and earmark $1 billion for building retrofits to increase energy efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions. An Apollo Alliance report, "Growing Green-Collar Jobs," details an ongoing collaboration between 50 community, labor and private sector groups to build sustainable employment in New York. That work led to the Green-Collar Jobs Planning Commission last year. Nor are the city's historically disadvantaged neighborhoods being left out. Sustainable South Bronx, for instance, has worked for four years to move residents from welfare to green-collar jobs.
Clean Edge ranks the New York metropolitan area (including northern New Jersey and Long Island) third among 15 top U.S. metro areas for job creation. EarthLab foundation ranks New York as the second-greenest city in the U.S. in terms of their carbon output. A list of available green jobs in New York City can be found here.
New York State was the sixth leading state for clean energy job creation in 2007, adding 3,323 clean businesses and 34,363 new jobs that year. Some $209 million in venture capital was invested in the state's clean energy economy between 2006 and 2008.
According to the New York Times, California had the most clean-energy jobs in 2008, 125,000, employing 0.71% of the workforce. Many of the jobs are in progressive San Francisco and nearby Silicon Valley. Jobs in all of Clean Edge's top five categories are available in the Bay Area. In fact, the Clean Edge report identifies San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose as the number one metro area for clean technology job activity (Los Angeles/Riverside/Orange County is second). SunPower, a solar company based in San Jose with 5,400 employees, is rated #10 in Clean Edge's 2009 survey of top clean-tech employers.
San Francisco is also a great place to work, appearing on many "Top Ten Green Cities" lists. More than half its commuters get to work on the city's excellent public transportation system. It has the country's highest rate of municipal waste diversion from landfills -- an epic 70%. And it is Top Ten in another way: Its residents produce an average of 9.07 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, the seventh best score in the U.S. according to the EarthLab foundation. Green tech can only get better in San Francisco, where 20 big construction projects have applied for LEED certification and voters recently approved $100 million in revenue bonds to support renewable energy. Oakland is not just San Francisco's poorer neighbor across the bay; it is a clean-tech powerhouse in its own right, with 17% of its energy from renewable sources and a zero waste/oil independence goal for 2020.
In California overall, green businesses increased 45% between 1995 and 2008, and employment in the sectors grew 36%, according to the "Many Shades of Green" report from Next 10. The report said the most jobs were added in services (45% of the total), followed by manufacturing (21%). In research positions, the biggest private sector categories are green transportation, energy generation, and air and environment, said the report.
A posting on available green jobs in the San Francisco area is here. EarthLab foundation ranks San Francisco as the third greenest city in the U.S. in terms of annual carbon output.
California was the number one state for clean energy jobs in 2007, adding 10,209 clean businesses in 2007 and 125,390 clean jobs that year. Some $6.5 billion in new venture capital was invested in clean energy in the state between 2006 and 2008.
See Jim discuss this feature on ABC News Now.
Photos this page: Rolando Alvarez, Bill Poole/The Trust for Public Land
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