In my recent discussion of green job hunting myths, I argued against the mystique surrounding the green job industry and the psychological and other barriers this presents to those hoping to transition into a green career. Responses from readers ranged from disbelief, to hesitant hope, to specific questions regarding qualifications and resources. In this article, I start to provide some data that may be useful to readers in understanding the projected growth of the green job market and where they might fit in.
What Do We Mean by 'the Green Job Market is Growing'?
According to the United States President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), green jobs are everywhere, and the growth of the green job market is anticipated to continue to outstrip the growth of other markets. In its July 2009 report, the CEA cited data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showing projected growth in environmentally-related occupations to be 38% more than all other occupations combined by 2016. This is depicted in the following figure, reproduced from page 8 of their report:
To put this into perspective, it is worth noting that the occupations they considered were actually in a fairly limited range. Specifically, the BLS projections drawn from in the CEA report are based on data for the following occupations only:
- environmental engineering technicians
- environmental engineers
- environmental scientists and specialists (including health)
- environmental science and protection technicians (including health)
Including the likely corresponding increase in ancillary and surrounding jobs (IT, administration, and HR, to name just a few) would likely increase their projections significantly. In fact, echoing others, the CEA notes specifically that, "... it is currently hard to classify “green” jobs as they cross standard industry and occupation definitions," and that "the BLS has begun to consider a new classification system to learn more about these jobs. This will allow researchers to track changes in this rapidly evolving sector." (p. 9)
In October 2008, Global Insight published their own green job projections in a report developed for The United States Conference of Mayors and the Mayors Climate Protection Center. This report, "Current and Potential Green Jobs in the U.S. Economy," predicts the highest growth of green jobs will be in renewable power generation, residential and commercial retrofitting, and renewable transportation fuels. Global Insight includes in their projections not only 'direct' green jobs (such as hands-on manufacturing and retrofitting jobs), but 'indirect' green jobs, which they identify as engineering, legal, research, and consulting positions. Their projections for potential green jobs through 2038 for the US as a whole, totaling 4,214,700, are represented in the following graph:
Massachusetts and Connecticut
The Global Insight report also presented projections by state. For our Massachusetts and Connecticut readers, I have reproduced the projections for specific metropolitan areas here below:
Global Insight concludes its report with the following statement regarding where green jobs will be found:
"There are many Green Jobs in our economy already, but that figure stands to grow tremendously over the coming years due to market forces, legislation, and local initiatives, or some combination thereof. The vast majority of Green Jobs are not location dependent, so future Green Jobs will be located in cities and metropolitan areas that are currently the most attractive for investment, or in areas that actively increase their attractiveness relative to competing areas. The good news is that traditional industries continue to be replaced by new opportunities, and we have only just begun to tap into many of them."
Here again, however, the data compilers are not reflecting the many ancillary and supportive jobs (at all levels) that will necessarily be created by these projected increases. From the perspective of those looking to green their careers, adding these in would more accurately reflect the opportunities that are or will be available.