Research AreasEnvironmental and Energy Economics

Job Opportunities for the Green Economy: A State-by-State Picture of Occupations that Gain from Green Investments

In this report, PERI Co-Director Robert Pollin and Assistant Research Professor Jeannette Wicks-Lim provide a snapshot of the kinds of jobs are needed to build a green economy in the United States. They focus on six key strategies for attacking global warming and highlight some of the major “green jobs” associated with each of these approaches.
The six green strategies are: building retrofitting, mass transit, energy-efficient automobiles, wind power, solar power, and cellulosic biomass fuels. Pollin and Wicks-Lim show that the vast majority of jobs associated with these strategies are in the same areas of employment in which people already work in to-day, in every region and state of the country. For example, constructing wind farms creates jobs for sheet metal workers, machinists and truck drivers; increasing the energy efficiency of buildings through retrofitting relies on roofers, insulators and building inspectors. What makes these entirely familiar jobs “green” is that the people working in them are contributing their everyday labors toward building a green economy.
The authors present data on employment conditions in twelve states: Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. For each state, they report the number of people employed in each of the occupations affected by the green economy strategies, and what the average wages are in each state for each of these jobs. They also describe the national employment picture for each of the job categories.
What is clear from this report is that millions of U.S. workers, across a wide range of familiar occupations, states, and income and skill levels, will benefit from the project of defeating global warming and transforming the United States into a green economy.
This report is produced in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council. It will be followed later in the summer of 2008 by a detailed study of green investments, sponsored by the Center for American Progress. Please watch the PERI website for that report.
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