Chicago Green Jobs


Forecast: Wind, Snow, and 37 Million Jobs
February 19, 2009, 4:41 am
Filed under: Green Technology

Here’s a treat for the empiricists out there: a new report analyzing economic trends in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries! “Green jobs” became a buzzword mighty quick, and there just hasn’t been much hard data to support the common wisdom. Fortunately, the American Solar Energy Society and Management Information Services, Inc have teamed up to put some statistics on the table with their new “Green Collar Jobs” report.

Let’s start off with some baseline numbers. According to the report, the renewable energy and energy efficiency industries represented more than 9 million jobs and $1,045 billion in revenue in 2007. I’d say that qualifies as table stakes – green collar jobs are real, not a political meme on the order of hockey moms and Nascar dads. And since the renewable energy industry grew three times as fast as the U.S. economy as a whole in 2007, we can expect to see those job and revenue numbers grow.

If government and private investment really pull out the stops for renewable energy and energy efficiency, the report predicts that we’ll see 37 billion jobs creating $4,294 billion in revenue by 2030. Just to put that number in perspective for you, 37 billion jobs would be about 17% of anticipated employment in 2030.

So what are the sectors that will fuel that green jobs boom?  Biomass power is the gorilla in the room, racking up a whopping 71% of green jobs in 2007. Biomass power is derived from plant and animal sources – so we’re talking ethanol, biodiesel, methane, and good old fashioned trash burning (you can see why it’s so popular). Wind energy runs a distant second at 8%, with solar power and geothermal power ringing in at 5% each.  The remaining 11% is spread around a few additional sectors.  Hannah Kokjohn of the Medill Report made a splendid little pie chart if you’re interested in the breakdown.

But what are the jobs themselves, I hear you cry! Well here’s the good news: the goal is to develop shiny new industries, not new specialized jobs. New industries still require plenty of traditional skills from both the white collar and blue collar ranks.  Familiar positions include accountants, analysts, IT specialists, and engineers on the one side and construction workers, electricians, service, and maintenance jobs on the other. Getting a Green MBA or your LEED certification definitely helps, but hands-on experience and just straight-up passion for making a difference goes a surprisingly long way when it comes to snagging a green job.

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