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Clean Jobs Rising: New Report Finds Over 110,000 Jobs Announced In 2012

A new report by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), flagged this past week by the San Antonio Business Journal, found that over 110,000 new clean energy jobs were announced in 2012. The group tracked over 300 project announcements across multiple sectors and in every region of the country.

A few of the noteworthy 2012 trends in E2’s report include:

  • Public transportation drove clean job growth nationwide, clocking in at over 43,000 jobs over the course of the year. Power generation, most of which came from solar, wind, and geothermal, came in second with more than 30,000 jobs.
  • Solar power was a strong and steady job creator throughout the year, and especially in the fourth quarter, providing over 19,000 jobs between the manufacturing and power generation sectors.
  • Investment in energy efficiency hit a record high of $5.6 billion in 2012, according to E2’s analysis of government data, thanks to the announcement of as many as 9,000 new jobs.
  • Uncertainty over the production tax credit hit wind energy, leading to a decline in job creation announcements in the fourth quarter, even as capacity installation ramped up at the end of the year to get in under the anticipated expiration. But now that the “fiscal cliff” deal has extended the credit for another year, 2013 expectations show wind energy regaining some of its momentum.

State-wise, California dominated 2012 with 26,354 jobs announced, and North Carolina came in second with 10,867 jobs. The latter state lead the way at years’s end, however, announcing 7,610 of its total jobs in the fourth quarter — over 6,000 more than any other state. Florida, Illinois, Connecticut, Arizona, New York, Michigan, Texas, and Oregon rounded out the rest of the top ten states for clean energy job creation, in that order.

In March of 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced a definition of green jobs, along with a survey finding that 3.1 million jobs were associated with the production of green jobs and services in the American economy in 2010.

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It appears E2’s report was compiled from media announcements, so it’s not clear how closely their definition of “clean energy jobs” sticks to the BLS’ definition of green jobs. However, the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) recently broke down the implications of the BLS survey, and determined that greener industries actually grow faster than the overall economy: For every increase of one percentage point in the share of green jobs that made up an industry’s employment — or its “green intensity” — overall employment in that industry increases 0.034 percentage points higher

On top of that, green jobs are also accessible to workers without a college degree: For every one percentage point increase in an industry’s green intensity, the share of its jobs held by workers without a four-year college degree increased by a corresponding 0.28 percent. Finally, EPI also found that states with higher green intensity generally weathered the post-2008 downturn better than other states.