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Summary:

The green technology and clean power industries are currently employing more workers than their dirty fossil fuel peers. That’s according to a report released from the Brookings Institution, which has crunched the numbers of jobs created in the U.S. from cleantech.

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The green technology and clean power industries are currently employing more workers than their dirty fossil fuel peers. That’s according to a report released from the Brookings Institution, which has crunched the numbers of jobs created in the U.S. by sectors like solar, wind, waste water recycling, public transportation and energy efficiency retrofits.

At 2.7 million jobs, the clean economy — which Brookings defines as sectors that produce goods and services with an environmental benefit — also employs more workers than the biosciences industry, though not as many jobs created via information technology. Brookings crunched these numbers via each county (see image), which is one of the first times this kind of study has been done.

Beyond being relatively large, the clean economy has more manufacturing jobs than the rest of the U.S. workforce, with 26 percent of clean energy jobs having to do with manufacturing, compared to 9 percent for the rest of the U.S. job market. Clean energy manufacturing jobs include positions like producing electric cars, bio chemicals, and LED lighting.

Clean economy jobs also are offering significant opportunities and relatively high wages for low skilled workers (ie. “green collar jobs”), like jobs installing solar panels, working in factories producing cleantech goods, and doing home retrofits. In addition, jobs in solar, and the smart grid grew at a faster pace than the rest of the economy.

However, the clean economy was significantly effected by the real estate crash of 2007 and 2008, and jobs in sectors that install energy efficiency tech for buildings and green construction products saw layoffs. Factoring in these building-related sectors, the clean economy grew at a slower rate than the overall economy between 2003 and 2010.

To help boost the clean energy economy even more, the Brookings report suggests that Congress could pass a national clean energy standard, put a price on carbon, use the government as a chief customer of cleantech goods (Obama has been strong on this), find more ways to help proven clean technologies pass the so-called Valley of Death, as well as increase funding for basic science and early-stage high risk projects (like the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program).

  1. How are these jobs being paid for? Government subsidies are not REAL jobs.

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    1. The wars for Oil have cost at least $3.7 Trillion, Now we are really talking subsidies

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    2. The Wars for Oil Have subsidized Fossil Fuels to the tune of $3.7 Trillion not to mention lives.
      http://news.yahoo.com/u-cost-war-least-3-7-trillion-counting-110411362.html

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      1. All the more reason not to subsidize technologies that are not viable replacements for fossil fuels. Also, while I appreciate the citation, there is no oil in Afghanistan.

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  2. I am always a little skeptical when it comes to studies like this. Everything has either a liberal or conservative spin to it.

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  3. This is along the sames lines as when Obama said (a few weeks ago) that ATM machines are job killers. In other words, saying “green” requires more jobs is a big negative.

    This also reminds me of the broken window theory. When a window breaks, someone has to fix it it. Voila! A job (portion of one) is created! …and somehow to leftists, this is good.

    I hope people see that all of this thinking is backwards and wrong. BTW, The Brookings Institution is very liberal

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  4. Look, “clean economy” jobs are great. Any job is great. But this report misses the mark in terms of accurately representing the facts about jobs in the “fossil fuels” industries. Which, by the way, includes oil, natural gas and coal. The claim that 2.7 million jobs exceeds ALL jobs in the fossil fuels industries is absurd on its face.

    Oil and natural gas employ more than 7 million people.

    Sources on employment in oil and gas industry:
    - Entire industry: http://www.api.org/policy/americatowork/upload/EconomicImpacts_of_Industry_on_US_Economy_in_2009.pdf
    - Natural gas: http://www.anga.us/media/41062/ihs%20global%20insight%20anga%20u.s.%20economic%20impact%20study.pdf

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  5. More interesting would be the GDP impact per job for each sector.

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    1. Is that be minus the Import Bill for Oil which I believe runs to the tune of ~ Half A trillion per year

      Solar will keep taking a bigger slice as prices keep reducing from $4/watt panels in 2008 to the current $1.5-$1.30 current pricing. Keep in mind Not only is the economies of scale playing out, but incremental Efficiencies in Manufacturing and new disruptive technologies are right round the corner

      Another point to realize is that Solar is not dependent on the US singularly driving innovation, we may have cheap gas, but in other countries Solar is already at Grid Parity thanks to cheap labor for installation

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-10/asia-doubles-silicon-factories-pursues-gain-through-glut-as-prices-dive.html

      http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/37882/?mod=chthumb

      http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/06/09/241120/solar-is-ready-now-%E2%80%9Cferocious-cost-reductions-make-solar-pv-competitive/

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  6. Wind and solar are used to produce electricity. Oil is used mostly for transportation. You could erect a million wind turbines and you won’t stop one drop of oil being taken out of the ground. Why do people always compare oil and wind/solar. Completely irrational.

    I seriously question this study. The only people working at our local wind farm is the two guys who drive around in the morning picking up the dead birds.

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    1. You think these wind farms spouted out of the ground on their own?

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  7. This just means that fossil fuel industries are more efficient (as well they should be, given the amount of time and competition they have had to make their products).

    Not that they are better, necessarily, than “clean” energy.

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  8. Fossil fuels and coal are subsidized by billions, not including the wars, military incursions, etc that should also be added in. Also, you should add in public health costs (asthma, lung cancer, etc) and it’s pretty clear that any spend to clean energy and alternative fuels should be regarded as R&D spending until we get to grid parity.

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  9. http://t.co/FZ7IymDp Or Brookings’ take that clean energy now employs more than fossil fuels or life sciences nationally

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  10. RT @iabowles: http://t.co/FZ7IymDp Or Brookings’ take that clean energy now employs more than fossil fuels or life sciences nationally

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