California Leads Nation in Clean Economy Jobs

A recent study by the Brookings Institute shed a little light on clean economy or “green” jobs. Until now, little has been known about this sector of the workforce because of no standard definition as to what constitutes a green job, and hard facts concerning the issue have also been hard to come by.

The research found that of all the 50 states in our nation, California was in the lead for the highest number of clean economy jobs, with 320,000. Of these jobs, 90,000 exist within the Los Angeles Metropolitan Area. These jobs may include positions in manufacturing, renewable energy and agriculture.

Clean economy jobs have been a hot topic this past decade and with good reason. The Brookings Institute surveyed 100 of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, since these are the areas where most green jobs are located. Of all the clean economy jobs out there, 64% exist within our nation’s top 100 metro areas, including 75% of the newer positions created between 2003 and 2010.

Within these metropolitan areas, their clean economies can be broken down into four different categories:

  • Service-Oriented
  • Manufacturing
  • Public Sector
  • Balanced

A service-oriented clean economy would be a city that revolves around and relies on a mass transit system, such as New York City and its subway system. Manufacturing clean economies would be those that house a large number of industrial jobs aimed at creating greener products, such as the electric vehicle industry in Detroit. Public sector clean economies include state capitals, with many city and government employees working for the greener good. Finally, a balanced green economy would be a metropolitan area that incorporates many of these categories at the same time, such as a city like Los Angeles.

Although California does have the highest number of green jobs in the country, Alaska and Oregon actually have the largest amount per worker. Regionally, the South has the highest number of clean economy jobs in general, and the West has the highest per worker.

Nationwide, the US employs 2.7 million workers in clean economy jobs. Although the definition of what this really means still remains somewhat ambiguous, a green job can include any position involved in the production of goods or provision of services with environmental benefits. These can be jobs that have been around for a long time, including those in public service such as wastewater treatment or mass transit. And these can also jobs in the new frontiers of the green economy, such as renewable energy jobs like solar, wind, hydro and biofuel.

Besides the fact that the clean economy continues to grow and will provide more and more jobs for the future, you might be wondering what this really means for you as a worker. The good news here is that the study by the Brookings Institute also found that the median wages in the clean economy are 13% higher than the overall median US wages. So upon gaining employment in the green sector, not only will you bettering our environment, you might also be making a little more money.

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