Is there a day that goes by that some politician somewhere doesn't mention green jobs as a possible lifeline for the economy? If not the national economy, maybe a state's or city's? Many politicians are touting and campaigning on green job creation. I was reminded of this by an item on WCCO, St. Paul, Minn., "What makes jobs 'green,' and how many are there?"
The article quoted Minnesota's Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who said, "Green jobs will be one of the largest changes in our economy since the industrial revolution." How's that for hyperbole?
Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party gubernatorial candidates also are quoted. Among them is Matt Entenza, whose Web site is bright green. No mistaking what he's campaigning on. Entenza said, "I believe that we can create 50,000 jobs right away with a clean energy agenda."
Following these quotes, WCCO Producer Joan Gilbertson asked, "But what are green jobs and how can they really help the economy and the environment?" According to Gilbertson, here's what you need to know:
"From wind turbines to solar, the market is exploding with clean jobs for clean energy. It's called 'green-collar.' The most basic definition of a 'green-collar job' is that it must pay decent wages and benefits that can support a family, be part of a real career path with upward mobility, and the job needs to reduce waste and pollution.
"But many jobs expand the definition to include anything that helps put America on the path to a cleaner, more energy-efficient future.
"That means jobs in public transit, science, education, green construction and building retrofitting — even traditional, blue-collar manufacturing jobs, as long as the products contribute to 'decarbonizing' the economy.
"It's difficult to put a real number on exactly how many green jobs are out there, and it's still quite a small part of our economy. Here's what(else) you need to know:
"The most recent government study, "Measuring the Green Economy," found the number of green jobs at about 2 million. Green manufacturing jobs totaled more than 200,000 and green service jobs were much higher at more than 1.5 million."
Released in April 2010 by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration, "Measuring the Green Economy" is chock full of interesting findings. The project was initiated obstensibly for at least two reasons: "First, it is valuable to know the share of green products and services in the overall economy. Second, the growth — and potential for future growth — of the green economy is of great interest to policymakers" and politicians.
What jumped out at me from the report are the findings that:
- Green products and services comprised 1% to 2% of the total private business economy in 2007. The lower estimate is based on a narrow definition of products and services over which there would likely be little debate about their classification as green. The larger estimate is based on a broader definition that includes products and services whose classification as green is more open to debate.
- The employment generated by the production of green products and services is assumed to result in green jobs. Like green products and services, green jobs were also a relatively small part of the economy. According to estimates, the number of green jobs ranged from 1.8 million jobs under the narrow definition to 2.4 million jobs under the broad definition.
- The services sector accounted for roughly three-fourths of green business activity; manufacturing accounted for about 13%. Construction and agriculture made up the remaining share.
- Between 2002 and 2007, the share of green shipments and green jobs in manufacturing remained fairly constant, ranging between 0.9% and 1.3%. Green manufacturing jobs fell over this period, as did jobs in all manufacturing.
- The green economy is in a position to grow quickly, but the relative small size of the green economy suggests that a majority of the jobs that will be created during this recovery are likely to come from the production of products and services outside of the green economy.
Having read all that, what do you think? Will green jobs be one of the largest changes in our economy since the industrial revolution? I guess it depends on your definition of green jobs, and politicians are great at parsing definitions. I like the definition of green-collar jobs cited by Gilbertson. Wouldn’t it be great if every job was a green-collar job? Seems like the definition of Utopia to me.
Going green is a hot topic these days and a growing movement in the manufacturing industry. As a result, the sponsors of FABTECH 2010 have developed a four-question survey to determine your thoughts on sustainable manufacturing. The information you and your peers provide will be highlighted at the Atlanta show and in industry media. Please click this link to get started: http://lcwa.qualtrics.com/SE?SID=SV_cIU8RExbX76Klxy
Thank you very much for your time in completing this survey.
Follow fabcomlady on Twitter.
Become a fan of The Fabricator® on Facebook.