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Find out where the hottest opportunities lie in clean technology, conservation, alternative energy, pollution mitigation and more.
In a generally bleak employment picture, the green jobs sector is growing faster than any other. By 2007, a Pew Charitable Trusts report on the Clean Energy Economy counted 770,000 jobs in all 50 states that met the "double bottom line" of economic growth and environmental sustainability. Clean energy economy jobs grew by 9.1% between 1998 and 2007, compared to just 3.7% in overall job growth in those years (before the markets crashed). Venture capital investment -- thin on the ground throughout the economy now -- totaled $12.6 billion in the clean tech sector between 2006 and 2009.
A new report from the Global Climate Network (composed of nine think tanks, including the Center for American Progress) predicts that the world's eight leading economies will create 20 million new jobs between now and 2020. In the U.S., the report said, the stimulus package and the American Clean Energy and Security Act could help create as many as 1.9 million new green jobs in the period. The move to a "smart grid" could create 270,000 jobs, and a further 138,000 if U.S. smart grid technologies are exported to a global market, the report said.
On the downside, a study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid, Spain says that for every job created with energy price supports, 2.2 are lost in other industries. According to Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the university, each Spanish green job cost $774,000.
But PRTM global management consultants takes issue with that conclusion, explaining that jobs building green energy and electric vehicles are part of a global race. "The rest of the world is not going to wait when it comes to EVs and green energy, and jobs will be created somewhere," said PRTM's Oliver Hazimeh, who heads the firm's global e-mobility practice. "If the U.S. doesn't capture these jobs, then they may be lost to other markets, which could lead to a result similar to what occurred in Spain."
The federal stimulus bill contained more than $30 billion for clean energy, and the mantra espoused by now-deposed green jobs czar Van Jones was that the new positions should go to freshly trained Americans from some of the hardest-hit jobless populations. With unemployment over 10%, people need to go where the jobs are, and some states -- and some cities -- are making out better than others as the green jobs phenomenon unfolds. While every state and most American cities have a piece of the new economy, here are the five cities that -- through a combination of federal, state and municipal programs -- are faring best.
According to the Pew report, 65% of the national clean energy jobs in 2007 went to conservation and pollution mitigation -- by far the largest category. Clean energy accounted for 11.6% of new jobs in the period, energy efficiency for 9.5%, environmentally friendly production 7%, and training and support 6.8%. But environmentally friendly production saw the most growth: Up 67% from 1998 to 2007 (followed by clean energy, up 23%).
Of the top 10 clean-tech employers around the world identified by Clean Edge, four are in the U.S. (in Illinois, Washington, Arkansas and California). Clean Edge defines the top five sectors for clean-tech jobs in the U.S. as (in descending order): solar, biofuels and biomaterials, conservation and efficiency, smart grid and wind power. There's a long way to go. Only in Oregon are green jobs more than one percent of total employment (and it's only 1.02% of the 1.9 million jobs there).
The Motor City makes few Top Ten lists. Its vaunted monorail goes practically nowhere, its downtown is still struggling, and political turmoil at City Hall -- added to daunting budgetary constraints -- has kept civic progress at a minimum. But help is on the way, in the form of federal Department of Energy green-tech grants that are funding factories and creating jobs to tap into the vast pool of skilled auto industry talent in the metropolitan area. The state had created more than 22,000 clean-tech jobs by 2007, but those numbers will jump impressively when the 2009 DOE funding puts spades in the ground.
Michigan did make one Top Ten list: It was number seven on a list of clean energy jobs compiled by Pew Charitable Trusts. Clean Edge identifies the green transportation sector as one of four growth areas, and that benefits the cluster of companies making hybrid and electric vehicles in the greater Detroit area. Even companies not based in Michigan -- such as California's Fisker Automotive and Ford battery car supplier Magna International -- have opened hubs near Detroit. A mechanical engineer working on plug-in hybrids and EVs can expect to make $63,600 median pay with a bachelor's degree, reports Clean Edge. A great example of what's happening in the Rust Belt is the transformation of the Ford Motor Company plant in Wixom, Michigan from a shuttered eyesore that had lost 1,500 jobs to an incubator for Xtreme Power (which makes power systems for wind and solar) and Clairvoyant Energy (solar).
A posting on available green jobs in the Detroit is here.
Michigan lost 3.6% of its jobs between 1998 and 2007, but clean jobs were a bright spot: Some 1,932 new clean businesses were started, offering 22,674 jobs. Some $55 million in venture capital was invested between 2006 and 2008. The state was 10th in the nation in adding new jobs in conservation and pollution mitigation in 2007.