Report: ‘The Greener The Industry, The Higher The Job Growth Rate Over The Last Decade’

Industries that support a higher number of “green” workers who are making goods and services more environmentally friendly have experienced a higher rate of growth over the last decade than industries with fewer green jobs.

That’s according to a new study from the Economic Policy Institute, which analyzed data on the green workforce from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS data, which was released in March, documented 3.1 million green jobs nation-wide in renewable energy, water management, recycling, and various positions that help improve the efficiency and environmental footprint of a company or institution.

BLS defined green jobs as:

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.

The agency’s figures were given little attention in the mainstream press and were ridiculed by Republicans for including a broad array of positions in transportation, manufacturing, and waste services.

However, Ethan Pollack, a Senior Policy Analyst with the Economic Policy Institute, believed there was more to the data set. So he looked at how environmental and efficiency initiatives were impacting job growth in various sectors.

Pollack found that for every percentage point increase in the “green intensity” of a particular industry, annual job growth in that sector increased by 0.034 of a percentage point between 2000 and 2010.

Pollack also compared the green intensity of industries with BLS employment projections through 2020, finding that industries working to make their processes more efficient and their products more environmentally-friendly will likely see a 0.019 percentage point increase in employment over industries that do not.

“The conversation around green jobs has become polarizing,” said Pollack on a conference call today. “But the concept of green jobs should not be polarizing. We’re trying to depoliticize this issue and show that green jobs are all around us.”

The analysis also found that states with a higher penetration of green jobs saw slightly faster economic recoveries after the recession than states with fewer green jobs. However, this trend is heavily influenced by stimulus funding, which played a major role in continuing investment momentum in the clean energy industries.

This is consistent with last year’s Brookings Institution green jobs study, which found that the “clean economy” grew by 8.3 percent during the height of the U.S. economic downturn between 2008 and 2009 — almost double the overall economy during that period.

Traditionally, green jobs been defined strictly within the clean energy sector. But that industry is only one piece of the overall shift toward a more sustainable economy. In their respective reports, Brookings and BLS report tried to define those jobs as providing a broader array of goods and services that make operations more environmentally-friendly — offering a better representation of how businesses and institutions will make the transition.

This latest report from EPI shows that the deeper the “greening” goes in industries, the more jobs are created.

Related Posts:


5 Responses to Report: ‘The Greener The Industry, The Higher The Job Growth Rate Over The Last Decade’

  1. Dan Ives says:

    That scatter plot and it’s linear fit look pretty dubious to me. Were it not for the six points on the right, I think the line would show a negative relationship. And the R-value on that linear regression has to be abysmal. The study does not say whether any statistical tests were done to determine if the positive relationship is statistically significant or not. But given all that, I’m pretty skeptical of conclusion, “The Greener The Industry, The Higher The Job Growth Rate Over The Last Decade,” based on this particular study.

  2. aweb says:

    Well, that’s one of the worst uses for a linear regression possible – a “Senior Policy Analyst with the Economic Policy Institute”, i.e. a economist, should have their regression lines taken away from them for this sort of thing. Bad economist, bad.

    The point may or may not be true, but the crazy-specific “0.034 percentage points” wouldn’t stand a single review by a qualified statistician. The residuals and influential points clearly violate the most basic assumptions you are supposed to check.

    Those hugely influential 6 points at the end made up of 75-90% green jobs are driving the entire result. That’s good, mind you. It would be more meaningful to state that “the top 6 industries as ranked by green-ness all showed positive job growth”. At least that would be true, according to this data.

  3. Leif says:

    In spite of what R-money has to say and the GOP try to do, the GREEN AWAKENING ECONOMY continues to grow! IN YOUR FACE socially enabled economy…

  4. Uncle B says:

    America in reluctant transwition, forced by economic realities from foreclosed McMansions, rusty SUV’s and vehicles with V-8 engines friet to Asian 4 bangers, next to rechareable battery’Short Hop” ultra-light vehicles as the new reality unfolds even from Fox news. A refocused America will live well within theor means and in sustainable way of perish at the hands of thoer own Uber Rich.

  5. Stephen Lacey says:

    Here’s a comment from the author, Ethan Pollack:

    First, you’re right that a lot of the relationship is being driven by the six outlying industries, which make up transit and waste collection/treatment. But even if you take out those six industries, the relationships in both scatterplots are still positive (I was aware of this issue and checked it before publishing). Furthermore, transit and waste aren’t just fluke outliers, they’re really important to the green economy! It’s unclear to me why these industries should be ignored. But, as I said, even if they are ignored there is still a positive relationship.

    Second, you’re also right that the R2 is pretty weak for the relationships shown in the paper, about 0.06 for both of them. (Note that if you control for industry size, the first relationship’s R2 jumps to 0.24 (adjusted 0.22) and the second jumps to 0.09 (adjusted 0.07)). But that seems to matter less in this case because the paper doesn’t actually try to explain all the variation in employment growth–there are obviously a huge amount of factors that could go into an industry’s employment growth. What I’m pointing out is that over the last ten years we’ve lacked a comprehensive green policy and still we’ve seen green industries on average grow faster than other industries. In the context of a debate over green policies, this suggests that policies to promote the green economy are swimming with–rather than against–the market forces.

    Finally, the study actually does specify that statistical significance was tested for the two scatterplots. Right in the text, it says that both relationships are significant to 95% (pages 10 and 12).