Infographic Of The Day: Do Green Jobs Really Exist?

Not only do they exist, but they just might provide jobs for those in manufacturing, and in middle America.

Color me cynical, but for a long time, I assumed that all the political blather about green jobs meant only one thing: They were fake. But according to this infographic by Column Five for solar-power company 1Bog, green jobs are very much real—and in fact might be one of the only places in this awful economy where a person can hope to get a decent manufacturing job.

Granted, we're not experiencing the hockey-stick growth you might expect from such a burgeoning field. As the topmost chart shows, the green economy expanded three times faster than the economy as a whole, in the decade ended in 2007. (Who knows exactly what that ratio looks like now, but we're betting that it's larger.)

If you look at the "Top Jobs in Renewable Energy" pie chart near the top, you get a pretty good indication of how many green jobs rely on proven technologies that can scale — namely, hydroelectric, solar, and wind, trailed quite distantly by geothermal, wave energy, and all the other energy generators that seem to exist only on green-tech blogs.

But perhaps the most surprising part of the chart above is the kind of jobs that the green-tech sector is creating: These aren't positions for PhD eggheads and white-collar middle managers, but rather middle-class workers who just a decade ago might be been classified as blue-collar. Nearly 69% of all green-economy jobs are middle-class, middle-income positions — compared to just 43% of all American jobs. In other words, when politicians say that green jobs are the most promising place to look, as we try to put the hollowed-out middle-class back to work, they might actually be right. After all, what other growing sector of the economy is looking to hire people without a college degree? A whopping 26% of all green jobs are in manufacturing, compared to 9% in the economy at large:

Moreover, as the two maps on the bottom show, the green economy isn't just confined to the major cities: Instead, the largest growth has occurred in places such as Des Moines, Knoxville, and Toledo. To put it simply: Green jobs have been touted as a silver bullet for our economic woes. And it might be true: They employ precisely those people whose skills are otherwise in low demand. And those jobs are emerging in places beyond the coasts, where job creation has been difficult.

So why don't we actually hear more about green jobs? What happened to all that bluster from a year or two ago? Why aren't all the Republican candidates talking about them? And why isn't President Obama touting them, everywhere he goes?

[Top image by Kenny Louie]

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8 Comments

  • James Swisher

    In a depressed economy, individuals stress over their position in the workforce. Jobs are hard to come by and hard to keep. President Obama keeps trying to introduce “green jobs” as a promising alternative to these individuals. What he must realize is that the term “green jobs” brings about many questions, unknowns, and misconceptions. What is a green job? What makes it a green job? Am I qualified? Will I enjoy this job? Green Jobs Guide has a great article on The "Art" of Getting a Green Job through the following link: http://greenjobsguide.us/2011/....

  • Cato

    Guest: I do, in fact, object to the subsidization of the oil & gas industry as well as the ethanol subsidies that are causing people to starve all over the world as we burn the corn that could feed them. BTW, the resources that are taken away from other industries to subsidize energy efficiency and renewables sectors are called taxes.

  • Rik Deakin

    This looks to be really interesting, but I can hardly read it. Is there any chance of getting slightly higher res images?

  • guest

    "Because you forgot the much larger numbers of non-green jobs that were lost as resources were taken away from other industries to subsidize these jobs and to pay the non-productive bureaucrats who oversee the redistribution."

    What resources were taken away from other industries to subsidize energy efficiency and renewables sectors? I suppose you equally object to the 100 years of subsidization of the oil and gas industries and big-ag industries that redistribute resources and jobs all across the country and pay for the bureaucrats who oversee that redistribution. But then again...I suspect you don't.

  • Aggenb

    The government spent $100's of billions of dollars to create and push the so called green economy. This is a false economy like the housing tax credits.
    Not much thought in this article.

  • Cato

    So why don't we actually hear more about green jobs? What happened to all that bluster from a year or two ago? Why aren't all the Republican candidates talking about them? And why isn't President Obama touting them, everywhere he goes?
     
    Because you forgot the much larger numbers of non-green jobs that were lost as resources were taken away from other industries to subsidize these jobs and to pay the non-productive bureaucrats who oversee the redistribution. (See Frederic Bastiat, That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen.) Take a look at the many papers that document the results in Spain, where both effects were measured and you'll see that the overall result has been a total disaster. The green jobs are one of the reasons overall manufacturing jobs are down.

  • Tom Springer

    In part, the low visibility of green job growth could be due to the fact that most have been added in places like Des Moines, Knoxville and Toledo. None of which are exactly centers of media and cultural influence. Other than floods, tornadoes and staged campaign events (think Joe the Plumber) not much national news gets reported from such Mid American locales. 

  • Richard Posey

    I know we have inflicted Rick Perry on American politics, but could you straighten out the geography of Texas? I know it's not a precise map, location-wise, but I'd feel better if you could swap Houston and DFW.

    BTW, your comment "submit" button is invisible until you use "tab" to find it or wave your mouse pointer around a bit.Thanks! I enjoy this site.