U.S. Job Market Bursting With Green Tech Opportunities

We’ve come a long way since the painful market crashes of 2008, but it hasn’t been easy. Progress toward a more stable housing, credit, and job market has been hard fought, with far too many workers still looking for a decent job that pays a living wage. A possible silver lining to this stressful time might be the overwhelmingly positive growth of the green job market where other industries have been stagnant.

Ecotech Institute, a Colorado-based college that is the first accredited educational institution in America to focus solely on careers in renewable energy and sustainability, has been tracking this progress. Today, new data from its Clean Jobs Index reveals that there were over 700,00 clean jobs posted across the United States between January 1, 2013 and March 31, 2013–news that’s good for our economy as well as our environment.

green jobs growth

Image via Guerito/Flickr

Ecotech’s Clean Jobs Index is an informative online tool that breaks down clean jobs by state with links to local listings, helping to fill the data gap left by the U.S. government when it recently stopped tracking green jobs due to budget cuts.

In addition to providing objective information on jobs, the Clean Jobs Index also aggregates data on a variety of sustainability factors in all 50 states, including alternative fueling stations, LEED projects, total energy consumption, energy efficiency, green pricing, net metering and state incentives.

“The Clean Jobs Index shows that there is tremendous job growth in the cleantech sector and signs of positive momentum on the state level for environmental factors that can affect us all,” said Kyle Crider, Ecotech Institute’s Program Chair and Manager of Environmental Operations. “When we see increases in LEED certification, we know businesses are making sustainable decisions; when we see an increase in alternative fueling stations, we know people are driving demand for greener forms of transportation. These are powerful indicators.”

Here are some of the highlights revealed in analysis of 2013’s first quarter. To utilize the full state-by-state tool, visit: www.ecotechinstitute.com/cleanjobsindex.

clean jobs infographic Q1 2013

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog

    • http://www.thegreenjobbank.com/ Bernard Ferret

      I think the 700,000 number is highly questionable (there’s a typo in the article where the number is “700,00”) because of too many unanswered questions, and the absence of valid statistical analysis. and scientific peer review.

      First it largely depends on the definition of a green job, and second, because automated textual analysis of a job description can’t be as accurate as a human making a judgment call. Let’s take the example of LEED jobs. If you run a search on the largest job boards (monster, careerbuilder, indeed and simply hired), you’ll find hundreds of results if you search with the terms “LEED certified” or “LEED certification” (you’ll find many more if you search only on “LEED”). But most of these jobs are NOT green jobs: building managers, elevator technicians, HV/AC technicians. What’s the amount of “green” activity these jobs have? In many cases very small to none. No amount of automated text analysis can tell unless you have sophisticated artificial intelligence software, which Burning Glass doesn’t have (if they had such software they would clamor it).

      Green Job Diversity
      Every type of green job has its own specific vocabulary attached to it, and there are hundreds (if not thousands) of jobs that you could reasonably qualify as green. This means that an exhaustive and complex human analysis is required for each type of job to determine the vocabulary attached to it. Has this been done?

      Type of company
      If you spider the job postings of companies like IBM, Nike, Coca Cola,and UPS, who are known for their efforts to become environmentally friendly, you’ll find that most job descriptions include terms such as “sustainable”, “sustainability”, “environmental”, “energy efficient”, “energy management”, or “electric vehicle” and so on. So you’d be tempted to either accept all these jobs, or reject some of them (for example a software engineer job which is not a green job at IBM), but you can’t do that for all companies. For example. companies that are 100% in the business of energy management and demand/response software, like Silver Spring Networks or Opower, hire hundreds of software engineers every year. These companies are green, therefore all employees of these companies have green jobs, according to the BLS definition. The energy management software market employs tens of thousands of workers in software, marketing, sales and administrative jobs. So you can’t reject or accept a job as green solely on the basis of its description. The company itself has to be assessed. Is Burning Glass’s software also looking at the type of company and making an “algorithmic” decision whether it’s a green company or not? Or have Burning Glass employees looked at the 17,000 companies to categorize them? They don’t say, so I doubt it.

      Number of companies
      Burning Glass claims they’re spidering 17,000 company websites. According to the US Sensus Bureau, there were 7.4 million businesses in the US in 2010 (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/26/us-usa-economy-businesses-idUSBRE85P0X720120626). So Burning Glass is spidering only 0.23% of all businesses. Is this a reasonable statistical sampling size, and more importantly are the 17,000 companies a representative sample of the 7.4 million?

      Independent verification
      There is absolutely no independent verification of the data, which casts a huge doubt on its validity. Burning Glass hides itself behind undisclosed proprietary information to block others from validating their algorithms. Every scientist in the world will tell you that a scientific “fact” becomes so only after exhaustive peer review. None has been done on Burning Glass’ data.

      Statistical Analysis of the results
      The only possible independent analysis of Burning Glass’ data would be a statistical analysis of the jobs. What would be a reasonable sampling size, and who is going to do the analysis for verification? Manual/human analysis would be required on the samples because using another software algorithm wouldn’t
      prove anything, and would get you in a infinite loop of verifying the software that verifies the software.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big proponent of the green economy and green jobs, and have spent the past 5 years immersed in the topic at TheGreenJobBank. My goal here is not to cast doubt on the green economy and its ability to generate jobs, it’s simply to cast doubt on Burning Glass’ numbers. In a highly politicized environment, these numbers can be used by both camps to bolster their arguments for or against green jobs.