California green job growth outstrips tired old brown economy
A new report offers more ammunition in the never-ending debate over green jobs.
Next 10, a San Francisco nonprofit, published a survey Wednesday that shows that California’s “core green economy” grew more than three times as fast as the state’s old brown economy between 2008 and 2009. It’s a trend that resembles the boom in software jobs since 2005.
“The green job data is significant because these jobs are growing in every region across the state, outpacing other vital sectors, and generating business across the supply chain,” F. Noel Perry, Next 10’s founder, said in a statement. “There are very few business sectors in a state as large as California that employ people across every region. The emergence of this vibrant Core Green Economy can be attributed to California’s history of innovation, as well as our forward-looking energy and energy efficiency policies.”
Relying on state employment data, Next 10 calculates that some 174,000 Californians are employed in the core green economy.
“These ‘green’ jobs identified across the economy include existing occupations with new tasks such as a laborer who carefully dismantles materials for recycling purposes and architects who design energy efficient buildings,” the report’s authors wrote. “These jobs also include new occupations such as solar installers, biomass collectors, and wind turbine technicians.”
“Some of the top occupations identified in the survey include carpenters working in green activities, hazardous waste specialists, farm workers in sustainable agriculture,” they added, “assemblers of green products, recycling center operators, electricians and plumbers in green activities, architects, industrial production managers, biomass collectors, alternative fuel vehicle technicians and engineers, health and safety managers, and transportation program specialists.”
In other words, many of these green jobs are in traditional occupations that have now taken on an emerald tinge as they’re applied to sustainable endeavors.
Which, of course, raises the question of whether we all — or many of us, anyway — will be working in the green economy one day. (Do I, for instance, qualify as a card-carrying member of the California’s core green employment base because I write exclusively about environmental and green tech issues?)
If you live in certain parts of California it certainly seems like everyone is wearing a green hard hat or eyeshades. Growth in green jobs in the San Francisco Bay Area jumped 8 percent between 2008 and 2009 and 109 percent since 1995, according to the report.
The Bay Area, in fact, accounts for 28 percent of all green jobs in the state. No surprise there, given Silicon Valley and the cluster of solar and energy companies that have flocked to the regionor have been spun out of universities like Stanford or the University of California, Berkeley.
Los Angeles has a 23 percent share of green jobs and is a hub of electric car and energy development. But the report found that the green economy has expanded to most corners of California.
One interesting statistic: The green economy has revived, to some extent, the long decline of manufacturing in California. About 26 percent of green workers are employed actually making things, compared to 11 percent of all employees.