When President Obama promised green jobs, he probably had bigger ideas in mind; ideas that relied on regulations, new standards, and policy initiatives that would lead to innovation. Still, despite the serious political roadblocks to feeding a green economy, a new report by the Brookings Institution, in collaboration with development company Battelle, reveals that green jobs grew at an annual rate of 3.4 percent (or by half a million jobs) between 2003 and 2010.
According to the report, green job growth still lags slightly behind the nation’s overall job growth, which rose 4.2 percent annually during the same period. The report categorizes “green jobs” as those being in clean-tech; waste management; transportation; appliance and building manufacturing; food production; and more.
If that sounds like a large swath of the job farm to call “green,” it is. And that’s often the problem with any sort of green jobs report: The inability to clearly define what makes a job “green” and the additional problem of compiling data based on elusive terms.
But there is some good news in the convoluted numbers: Clean-tech jobs, specifically, grew 8.3 percent per year, compared with the rest of nationwide job growth at 4.2 percent, according to USA Today. What’s more, median wages for clean-tech jobs were $46,343, compared with $38,616 for all other occupations across the country.
The report spells good news for the Midwest, too, which holds 23 percent of the nation’s clean jobs, according to the report.
From the report:
Many Midwestern and Southern metros like Louisville; Cleveland; Greenville, SC; and Little Rock—but also San Jose in the West—host clean economies that are heavily manufacturing oriented… Roughly 26 percent of all clean economy jobs lie in manufacturing establishments, compared to just 9 percent in the broader economy. On a per job basis, establishments in the clean economy export roughly twice the value of a typical U.S. job ($20,000 versus $10,000). The electric vehicles (EV), green chemical products, and lighting segments are all especially manufacturing intensive while the biofuels, green chemicals, and EV industries are highly export intensive.
So what does green job growth look like for the Midwest overall? Here are the annual growth rates by state, from 2003-2010:
North Dakota 6.7
South Dakota 1.1
According to the report, Grand Rapids, Michigan, lost clean economy jobs most quickly from 2003 to 2010. Even excluding potential job losses from closing establishments, it lost 9.1 percent of its clean economy workforce annually (a loss of nearly 50 percent over the entire period).
Toledo, Ohio, and Madison Wisconsin, represent in the Midwest in the Top 10 most-clean-oriented metros.