Clean Edge's Job Trends Report

Yesterday I saw Clint Wilder speak at Cooley Godward’s Clean Tech Conference in Redwood City, CA.  Clint and Ron Pernick wrote an excellent book, named The Clean Tech Revolution.  So, I was particularly interested to hear what Clint had to say.

Clint reviewed his group’s recently released report on Clean Tech Job Trends 2009, which can be downloaded for free.  It’s a great report that is worth reading. Highlights include the following:

  • Clean-energy jobs accounted for 770,000 jobs in the U.S. during 2007, which is impressive compared to mature industries.  Biotech, for example represents 200,000 jobs, telecommunications has 989,000 jobs and traditional energy counts $1.3 million jobs.  Furthermore, clean energy jobs are growing faster than jobs in other sectors.
  • Top-five sectors for cleantech job activity based on job placement, job postings and other metrics: solar, biofuels & biomaterials, conservation & efficiency, smart grid and wind power.
  • Importantly, cleantech careers offer competitive wages and provide opportunities to traditionally disenfranchised worker segments.  The median pay for a solar energy installer, for example, is $40,000, and wind turbine technicians tend to earn over $52,000. The New York Times’ blog picked up on this point and wrote about it Thursday.
  • The cleantech revolution is producing jobs throughout the United States and rest of the world.  There is no one center of activity, like Silicon Valley.  Solar PV manufacturing centers of expertise can be found in Toldedo OH.  Wind turbine manufacturing is happening in Newton, IA.  Green building design services job centers are located in St. Louis, MO.
  • Cleantech opportunities are touching hard-hit communities.  Old manufacturing facilities are being retrofitted from old-line industry roles to new cleantech activities in places like West Branch, IA; Vandergrift, PA; and Wixom, MI.
  • Energy efficiency investing produces a lot of bang for the buck.  The number of U.S. direct jobs created per million dollar investment in building retrofits and smart grid is greater than the direct jobs created in the coal industry by a factor of 8:1 and 5:1 respectively.

Clint and his team did a good job in providing more detail on the much-discussed green jobs movement.  While most everyone recognizes the green jobs trend is real, we need reports like these to make the movement better understood and more concrete.

Alan Kelley