Green Economy Workers install rooftop solar panels

Published on March 23rd, 2012 | by Silvio Marcacci


3.1 Million Green Jobs Across America

March 23rd, 2012 by  

Workers install rooftop solar panels

Green jobs employed 3.1 million people across the United States in 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported Thursday.

This figure represented 2.4 percent of all jobs nationwide that year, was spread across the country by location and sector, and is the first set of solid federal data defining the size and scope of “green jobs,” which until now have been quantified only by individual states or policy organizations.

Beyond comprising a major slice of the US economy, green jobs also dwarfed fossil fuel industries. National Journal reports there were only 783,000 jobs in the oil, gas, and coal-mining industries during January 2010 (the most recent month available from BLS).

BLS broadly defines green jobs under the category of Green Goods and Services (GGS) as those “found in businesses that produce goods and provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources.” The GGS survey includes 120,000 businesses and government entities across 333 industries.

The private sector, by far, had the largest number of GGS jobs, with 2.3 million total jobs evenly distributed across four major sectors — manufacturing, construction, professional services, and administrative or waste services. Manufacturing represented the greatest number of GGS jobs with 461,000, construction was second with 372,000, professional services was third with 349,000, and administrative or waste services had 319,000 jobs.

The public sector had 860,000 GGS jobs, or roughly four percent of total government jobs. Local governments made up more than half the public sector total with 476,000 jobs, followed by mass transit systems with 229,000 jobs and the federal government with 157,000 jobs.

GGS jobs were widely spread across the country, and largely followed population trends. Six states had more than 100,000 GGS jobs: California with 338,000, New York with 249,000, Texas with 230,000, Pennsylvania with 182,000, Illinois with 140,000, and Ohio with 127,000. Vermont had the highest percentage of GGS jobs in the country with 4.4 percent, even though its total was just 12,884 GGS jobs.

Green jobs have been a theoretical concept until now, and subject to disagreement and doubt. But the BLS findings leave little margin for conjecture, and firmly establish that green economy is a sizable — and growing — part of our national economic future.

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About the Author

Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate policy public relations company based in Oakland, CA.

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  • lukealization

    Santorum Says… “what green jobs?”

    • Exactly. And the other GOP candidates.

      They are basically blind.

      Funny thing was seeing that the fossil fuel industry has a total of 0.783 million jobs.

      • Jonah_Falcon

        My favorite (which is indicative of the Obama Admin) is the Copper Mtn Solar plant in Boulder City, Nevada. To date, 54 million in taxpayer subsidy. Total jobs – 5. That’s what? 10 million and change per job? What a waste. Obama is driving us all into the poor house and you guys are giddy about it. When this renewable energy thing collapses (it’s just a matter of time, it’s NOT sustainable), think about how many green jobs will be lost. You gonna take credit for that too? I didn’t think so.

        • Bob_Wallace

          The Not Zach Mod nailed that one.

          You really wanted people to watch you pick cherries?

          • Jonah_Falcon

            At least your good for something Bob.
            Your part of the “At any cost” group.

          • Bob_Wallace

            (“You’re”, not “Your” Jonah.)

            (You’re welcome….)

          • Jonah_Falcon

            That was fo yo rednecks. For you bobby, it’s “yer”.

            Now write the check boy.
            I forgot, yer a liberal. Govt writes the checks.

        • silviomarcacci

          What’s really funny about this comment is that Copper Mountain (and several other utility-scale solar farms) will plow almost $500 million in tax revenue back to Boulder City’s government, and will likely pay the city’s debt and bills into the foreseeable future. Oh, and Copper Mountain 1 was built and running before Obama was president.

      • Jonah_Falcon

        Are you moderating my comments Zachary?
        Naughty Naughty.
        Truth hurts bud.

        • Jonah_Falcon

          Wow, I like how you deal with people who don’t support your opinion. Rookie.

        • Actually, I thought I blacklisted you. I’m not going to spend my day going back and forth with someone who sticks as many lies into a few lines as he can and then ignoring the responses or shooting back more lies (or even the same lies) indefinitely. (i hope you don’t actually believe half the things you write — that would be sad.)

          you are obviously either lost, get paid to spread lies on cleantech sites, or are insanely eager to go around the internet showing people how much knowledge you lack.

          do yourself a favor and spend time on something useful, rather than trying to pick fights with people on the internet by telling them 2+2 = 3.

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