Top 10 Reasons Why Green Jobs Are Vital to Our Economy

Why is Climate Progress focusing so much on green jobs? As many of readers have noticed, there is a coordinated effort among right-wing politicians and the press to challenge the notion that green jobs are growing fast and that they’re necessary. With Obama set to make a major speech on jobs tomorrow night, we’re working overtime to combat many of the myths.

By Christina C. DiPasquale and Kate Gordon, Center for American Progress

Green jobs are integral to any effort to jumpstart our economy and reduce as rapidly as possible our 9.1 percent unemployment that rate. The rapid growth of green jobs will boost demand in our economy by reducing unemployment, make America more competitive in the global economy, and protect our public health—all of which will result in greater economic productivity and long-term economic prosperity. Here are the top 10 reasons why this is the case today and into the future:

1. There are already 2.7 million jobs across the clean economy. Clean energy is already proving to be larger job creation engine than the heavily subsidized fossil-fuels sector, putting Americans back to work in a lackluster economy.

2. Across a range of clean energy projects, including renewable energy, transit, and energy efficiency, for every million dollars spent, 16.7 green jobs are created. That is over three times the 5.3 jobs per million dollars that are created from the same spending on fossil-fuel industries.

3. The clean energy sector is growing at a rate of 8.3 percent. Solar thermal energy expanded by 18.4 percent annually from 2003 to 2010, along with solar photovoltaic power by 10.7 percent, and biofuels by 8.9 percent over the same period. Meanwhile, the U.S. wind energy industry saw 35 percent average annual growth over the past five years, accounting for 35 percent of new U.S. power capacity in that period, according to the 2010 U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report. As a whole, the clean energy sector’s average growth rate of 8.3 percent annually during this period was nearly double the growth rate of the overall economy during that time.

4. The production of cleaner cars and trucks is employing over 150,000 workers across the United States today. These job numbers are likely to increase as improved car and light truck standards recently announced by President Barack Obama will require more skilled employees and encourage further investment.

5. Median wages are 13 percent higher in green energy careers than the economy average. Median salaries for green jobs are $46,343, or about $7,727 more than the median wages across the broader economy. As an added benefit, nearly half of these jobs employ workers with a less than a four-year college degree, which accounts for a full 70 percent of our workforce.

6. Green jobs are made in America, spurring innovation with more U.S. content than other industries. Most of the products used in energy efficiency retrofits are more than 90 percent made in America. Sheet metal for ductwork is over 99 percent domestically sourced, as are vinyl windows (98 percent) and rigid foam insulation (more than 95 percent). Even major mechanical equipment such as furnaces (94 percent) and air conditioning and heat pumps (82 percent) are predominantly American made.

7. We have a positive trade balance in solar power components such as photovoltaic components and solar heating and cooling components of $1.9 billion, and are exporting components to China. Contrast this with the oil industry, where in 2010 alone we imported over $250 billion in petroleum-related products. As our nation’s basic manufacturing base declines, we risk losing our place in the forefront of innovation if we don’t invest in advanced manufacturing in the green sector.

8. Three separate programs for energy efficiency retrofits have employed almost 25,000 Americans in three months. The Weatherization Assistance Program, Energy Efficiency Block Grant Program, and State Energy Programs have collectively upgraded over half a million buildings since the programs began to ramp up from April 1, 2011 and June 30, 2011, providing immediate new and sustainable job opportunities to tens of thousands of construction workers eagerly searching for work.

9. Clean energy jobs are better for U.S. small businesses.Specialty construction companies that perform energy retrofits show very high rates of small business participation in the construction. Ninety-one percent of the firms involved in retrofits are mall businesses with less than 20 employees.

10. An abundance of jobs in the green sector are manufacturing jobs with an upward career track. Forty-one percent of the nation’s green jobs offer medium to long-term career building and training opportunities, and 26 percent of green jobs are in the manufacturing sector, compared to 9 percent in the traditional economy.

The bottom line: Green jobs being created through smart investments in our energy infrastructure are expanding employment opportunities while reducing pollution of our air and water, providing an alternative to foreign oil, and allowing us to export more American-made goods abroad.

Christina C. DiPasquale is Associate Director of Press Relations at the Center for American Progress. Kate Gordon is Vice President for Energy Policy at the Center.  This is a repost.


6 Responses to Top 10 Reasons Why Green Jobs Are Vital to Our Economy

  1. Joan Savage says:

    You didn’t mention #11, Clean energy service sector jobs are going to be needed for decades.
    In this economy, a job that can’t be outsourced, has repeat business, and loyal customers is very desirable. Green tech service like cleaning grit off solar panels or installing replacement parts in circulating fans are going to be around for a while.

  2. Mark Shapiro says:

    Clean energy makes us – and all of our children – healthier, wealthier, safer, and more secure.

    How soon will the clean energy industries cooperate to send this good news to our politicians and media? Our PR and lobbying have a lot of catching up to do. (For evidence, read the last 10 or 20 posts.)

  3. Leif says:

    Just as we need to give more attention to our body health as we grow older, so to must we give more attention to the environmental health of the Nation. She to is growing a bit long in tooth and nail. We must invest to keep ourselves alive, so to, we must invest to keep our Nation alive. Every kWh we harvest from the Sun et al. and dollar spent on that energy and re-spent stays in America. It does not go to Foreign despots.

  4. Dr.A.Jagadeesh says:

    Yes. Millions of Green Jobs are in the offing and they will be a boon to economy.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India
    Wind Energy Expert

  5. Ziyu says:

    Just curious, can Obama just implement the Better Buildings Initiative or does it require legislation to pas?

  6. Uncle B says:

    American friends andneighbors all doomed by Vulture Capitaliat/Corporatist practices with powers far beyond their pautry “vote” franchise.Vote in closed boardrooms of large corporations have the real clout!Votes fromj the lobbyists,and their corporate pursuasions, far more effective than the “Political Campagn” system. America, accept ti! You are a corpocracy now!