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Job Opportunities for the Green Economy

A State-by-State Picture of Occupations that Gain from Green Investments

SOURCE: AP/Jack Dempsey

A wind turbine blade is unveiled during the opening of the Vestas blade factory in Windsor, CO in March. The world's largest wind-turbine maker officially opened its first U.S. manufacturing plant on Colorado's northern plains, where it expects to produce blades for 600 turbines a year and create thousands of jobs.

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Read the full report

This new report, sponsored in part by the Center for American Progress in advance of a major clean energy jobs study to be released by CAP and PERI later this summer, provides a snapshot of what kinds of jobs are needed to build a green economy in the United States. We 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 we examine here are: building retrofitting, mass transit, energy-efficient automobiles, wind power, solar power, and cellulosic biomass fuels. We show that the vast majority of jobs associated with these six green strategies are in the same areas of employment that people already work in today, in every region and state of the country. For example, constructing wind farms creates jobs for sheet metal workers, machinists and truck drivers, among many others. Increasing the energy efficiency of buildings through retrofitting relies, among others, on roofers, insulators, and building inspectors. What makes these entirely familiar occupations “green jobs” is that the people working in them are contributing their everyday labors toward building a green economy. We therefore consider and refer to the strategies examined in this report as green investments, in addition to global warming solutions.

We present data on employment conditions in 12 separate states: Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. For each of the 12 states, we report the number of people who are employed in each of the occupations that will be affected by our six green economy strategies, and what the average wages are in each state for each of these job types. We then also provide data on the national employ-ment picture for each of the job categories we examine.

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 all benefit from the project of defeating global warming and transforming the United States into a green economy.

Read the full report (pdf)

Robert Pollin and Jeannette Wicks-Lim work for the Political and Economic Research Institute.

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