Greener industries growing faster than overall US economy

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a liberal leaning think tank exists to broaden discussions about economic policy to include the needs of low- and middle-income Americans.

Earlier this month EPI published a report on the green economy. Among the findings:

  • Greener industries grow faster than the overall economy. For every percentage-point increase in an industry’s green intensity (the share of employment in green jobs), annual employment growth was 0.034 percentage points higher. Projections for the next 10 years suggest continued jobs benefits from green intensity.
  • States with greater green intensity have generally fared better in the current economic downturn.
  • Green jobs are accessible to workers without a college degree. For every one percentage-point increase in green intensity in a given industry, there was a corresponding 0.28 percentage-point increase in the share of jobs in that industry held by workers without a four-year college degree.
  • Manufacturing plays a strong role in the green economy. Although it represents only 10.8 percent of total private employment, manufacturing accounts for 20.4 percent of green jobs.
  • Green jobs go beyond the renewable energy industry. For example, nearly 50 percent of jobs in the water industry are green jobs, and the sector has opportunity to grow not just overall but in green intensity.

The US Government Bureau of Labor Statistics provides the following definition of green jobs:

  • jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources, or
  • jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or ensuring that they use fewer natural resources.

EPI discusses the limitations of this definition and of the green jobs concept while analyzing green jobs in a number of sectors, public and private, including:

  1. Energy from renewable sources.
  2. Energy-efficiency equipment, appliances, buildings and vehicles, and goods and services that improve the energy efficiency of buildings and the efficiency of energy storage and distribution.
  3. Pollution reduction and removal, greenhouse gas reduction, and recycling and reuse.
  4. Organic agriculture; sustainable forestry; and soil, water, and wildlife conservation.
  5. Government and regulatory administration; and education, training, and advocacy related to green technologies and practices.

The full paper is well worth detailed review by anyone interested in the green jobs concept and the opportunities which it presents. The full paper is available at http://www.epi.org/publication/bp349-assessing-the-green-economy/

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