Green Jobs Market Dominated by California and Growing Rapidly

Two recent studies have confirmed what many already know: that California is the green economy leader in the US with more green jobs and training programs than any other state. This is good news not only for people looking for fulfilling work based on a cleaner economy, but good news for green businesses looking for skilled, intelligent people.

The first study was conducted by Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs Network called Green Jobs and the Los Angeles Region. It found that not only does California have more green jobs than any other region in the country, but that green jobs market is set to double to approximately 433,000 jobs by 2040! Not only is this faster growth than that seen in the rest of the country, the green jobs market is growing at triple the rate of other job markets in the region over the past 15 years.

Better yet, these jobs pay between 50% and 100% premiums over the average job in the state. Here are some of the other key findings of the report:

  • Green jobs account for about 178,500 of roughly 4.5 million employed in the LA region in 2010, or about 3.9 percent of total employment, and perhaps 4.5 percent of private sector employment.
  • Green jobs already employ far more than ten times as many workers in the LA region as does petroleum and coal products production (4,400 in 2009, according to the Employment Development Department).
  • The industry has grown, and is projected to continue to grow, substantially faster than the overall economy, so by the late 2030s the absolute number will increase by at least 60 to 100%.
  • The renewables industry’s effects on personal income, and therefore prosperity, will be proportionally greater because anecdotal evidence suggests that these occupations have substantial skill requirements allowing workers to command wages with a 50% to 100% premium over the average job.

The report suggests that this astounding growth is as a result of the clean energy emphasis, a thought which is echoed by the second report put out by the Brookings Institute called Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment. Here are some of the main findings of that report:

  • The clean economy, which employs some 2.7 million workers, encompasses a significant number of jobs in establishments spread across a diverse group of industries.
  • The clean economy grew more slowly in aggregate than the national economy between 2003 and 2010, but newer “cleantech” segments produced explosive job gains and the clean economy outperformed the nation during the recession.
  • Among regions, the South has the largest number of clean economy jobs though the West has the largest share relative to its population.
  • The clean economy offers more opportunities and better pay for low- and middle-skilled workers than the national economy as a whole.

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This post was written by:

Maryruth Belsey Priebe

Maryruth has been seeking the keys to environmental justice - both at home and at work - for over a decade. Growing up adjacent to wild spaces, Maryruth developed a healthy respect (and whimsical appreciation) for things non-human, but her practical mind constantly draws her down to earth to ponder tangible solutions to complex eco-problems.

With interests that range from green living to green business, sustainable building designs to organic gardening practices, ecosystem restoration to environmental health, Maryruth has been exploring and writing about earth-matters for most of her life. Of special interest is the subject of ecopsychology and the role the natural world plays in the long-term health and well-being of humanity. You can learn more about Maryruth's work at

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