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Golden state basks in green job growth

Golden state basks in green job growth

POSTED December 11, 2009 11:23 p.m.
California’s silver lining in the job market is being fueled by an increase in green businesses.
According to a new study released Wednesday, green jobs are growing faster than any other sector in California. The state also is leading the nation in green job growth.
The report, “Many Shades of Green: Diversity and Distribution of California’s Green Jobs,” was conducted by Next 10, a nonpartisan nonprofit research group based in Palo Alto, and Collaborative Economics, a Mountain View based research and consulting organization.
The report analyzed California’s “core green economy” by studying areas of research, finance, investment, advocacy, construction, and energy uses and sources. Collaborative Economics defined green jobs as those that actively reduce waste, conserve energy and natural resources, and/or recycle waste into new energy sources.
The study found that green businesses in California increased by 45 percent from 1995 to 2008. Green jobs grew by 36 percent during the same time period in the state. Overall, total job growth in California between 1995 to 2008 was 13 percent.
“California is home to companies driving technological advances in clean energy products and services,” said Collaborative Economics Chief Executive Officer Doug Henton. “Green technology has the potential to do for energy, the world’s largest sector by revenue, what IT did for communications. As a first mover, we are well positioned to capture the fast emerging multibillion-dollar global green market.”
In 2007 and 2008, when the economy was faltering and job losses were mounting in the state, green jobs increased by 5 percent, while the state’s total employment fell 1 percent.
“Data show that green sector businesses are taking root across every region of California, generating jobs across a wide spectrum of skill levels and earnings potential,” said F. Noel Perry, founder of Next 10. “While green jobs clearly cannot solve the state’s current unemployment challenges, over time these jobs could become a growing portion of total jobs in California.”
The number of green jobs in the state grew from 117,000 in 1995 to 159,000 in 2008, representing an annual growth rate of 2.4 percent, according to Next 10.
While the absolute numbers of green jobs are not large, they are comparable to the biotech and software sectors, according to the report.
The median income in green jobs ranged from $23,000 for laborers, up to $130,000 for scientists and engineers.
Within the core green economy, the largest segment of jobs is in the Air and Environment sector. In this sector the number of jobs remained around 35,000 between 1995 to 2005, and then started expanding, reaching 43,000 jobs in 2008 for a growth of 24 percent.
The report found that employment in every sector of the green economy has grown over the time period the report studied and that green jobs were growing faster than the overall economy in rural areas with smaller economic bases.
In the San Joaquin Valley, green jobs grew by 48 percent from 1995 to 2008, with a high concentration in wind and alternative fuels. The report found that the San Joaquin Valley concentration in alternative fuels is three times the state average and that green transportation jobs grew by 211 percent.
“Market certainty provided by California’s forward thinking policies combined with ingenuity and the pioneering spirit has put California ahead of the green technology pack,” Perry said. “As global demand for these technologies increases, driven by rising fuel prices and policy, so too will our widely dispersed green economy.”
The Sacramento area led in job growth with 87 percent from 1995 to 2008. It was followed by the San Diego region at 57 percent, the Bay Area at 51 percent, and Orange County and Inland Empire each at 50 percent.
To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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