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New BLS Report Shows 3.1 Million Green Jobs -- And That's Not All of Them

J. Mijin Cha

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the first ever survey of green jobs today with some very promising numbers. In 2010, 3.1 million jobs were Green Goods and Services jobs (GGS) with 2.3 million in the private sector and 860,300 in the public sector. These numbers are even higher than the Brookings Institution estimates released last fall. Brookings estimated that 2.7 million people were employed in the green economy.

And, the newly released numbers are not even the whole picture on green jobs. In looking at green jobs, the BLS developed a two-part definition. The first part of the definition addresses “output-based jobs” that produce goods and provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources. The second part focuses on “process-based jobs” where workers make a company more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources. The jobs numbers released today include only jobs under the “output-based jobs” definition. Jobs under the “process based” definition will be released later this year.

Among the states, California had the largest number of green jobs at 338,400, which accounted for 2.3 percent of employment in the state. Vermont had the highest proportion of green jobs at 4.4 percent. Other notable numbers include:

  • The manufacturing industry had the greatest number of green jobs at 461,600, which included manufacturing iron and steel from recycled inputs, hybrid cars and parts, and pollution mitigation equipment.
  • Green jobs made up nearly 7 percent of construction employment, or 372,100 jobs. These jobs included constructing plants that produce renewable energy and weatherizing and retrofitting homes and buildings.
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services had 349,000 green jobs, which included engineering, architecture, and computer systems design.

The BLS compiled their data through the Green Goods and Services survey, under their Quarterly Census and Employment and Wages program, and included approximately 120,000 business and government establishments within 333 industries.

These numbers definitively show the promise and reality of green jobs. Maybe they should be brought up the next time Secretary Chu has to go before Congress to defend the DoE clean energy programs.