On March 22, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its 2010 estimates for green jobs by industry and state. According to the BLS, the US had 3,129,112 green jobs in 2010, which accounted for 2.4% of all jobs in the national economy. More specifically, these are jobs that are “related to the production of Green Goods and Services” and “found in businesses that produce goods and provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources.”
Some would likely argue that there are more than this, but the BLS has provided the first hard estimate — outside of Brookings — on green jobs. One of the principal problems with the green movement has been the dearth of solid numbers, so this is a good first step (and it jibes pretty closely with the Brookings’ estimate of 2.7 million “clean economy” jobs).
For a review of what the data means, check out Jordan Weissman’s article in The Atlantic. Here are two key excerpts:
Many of these jobs sectors involve run-of-the-mill conservation projects, such as sustainable forestry. Others, such as waste services, include old standby industries such as recycling. More than half of the “green jobs” in utilities actually belong to the nuclear power industry — an important source of zero emissions electricity to be sure, but not exactly what most environmentalists picture when they think of a 21st century green job.
and the concluding remark:
We should hope that the green jobs sector grows. Creating environmentally sustainable sources of energy and more efficient products will be one of the most pressing, and potentially profitable, challenges of the 21st century. The government may well need to play a role to make it happen. But given the small size of the sector, pumping money into it probably wasn’t a great way to boost employment in the near term.
In addition to the total number of green jobs in each industry, the BLS provided estimates of the proportion green employment makes in each industry and each state. According to the BLS, nearly 12% of all utility jobs in the US are green under its definition. However, the BLS says only 4% of all manufacturing jobs are green.
Once you delve into the state-by-state percentages by sector, the data gets interesting. For instance, North Dakota has the highest share of green manufacturing jobs among all states, at 16.7% — even with it’s huge fossil-fuel jobs boom (which would fall under natural resources and mining). And while just 6.8% of all construction jobs nationally are green, the BLS estimates that Michigan (12.2%) and Ohio (12%) have the largest proportional green construction presences.
|Green Jobs||Percentage of Green Jobs||Total Employment|
|Source: BLS, 2010 Annual Averages|
|District of Columbia||26,941||3.9||693,274|
A couple of years ago we produced a series of papers on green jobs, which you can check out here.