It’s one small step for America — and one giant leap for clean energy.
A recent study found that jobs in America’s emerging clean energy sector are growing more rapidly than jobs in the fossil fuel industry. The study, conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts, found that while employment in the traditional energy sector grew just 3.7 percent between 1998 and 2007, jobs in clean energy technologies grew by 9.1 percent.
Clean energy jobs are diverse — as are the salaries. They include engineers, plumbers, administrative assistants, construction workers, machine setters, marketing consultants and even teachers, with salaries ranging from $21,000 to $111,000. This sector has a ways to go in catching up with the number of workers employed by traditional energy, however. In 2007, the fossil fuel industry employed 1.27 million workers; clean energy provided 770,000 jobs.
Pew defines a clean energy economy as one that creates jobs, businesses and investments while expanding clean energy production, increasing efficiency, conserving natural resources and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, waste and pollution. Pew includes five categories in its definition of a clean energy economy: clean energy, energy efficiency, environmentally friendly production, conservation and pollution mitigation, and training and support.
Increasing consumer demand, venture capital investments, and federal and state policy reforms are expected to dramatically expand green jobs, Pew reports. Already, investors are spending more on alternative energy sources than on fossil fuels. Federal and state reforms are also under way. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allocated $85 billion for direct spending and tax incentives for energy and transportation programs.
States are also jumping on the bandwagon. So far, 23 states have adopted initiatives that will help reduce pollution from power plants, 46 states have offered tax incentives for renewable energy use and energy-efficient systems, and 29 states and the District of Columbia now require electricity providers to derive at least part of their power from renewable energy sources. Pew’s website has an interactive state-by-state map where you can learn more about green jobs in your area.
Interested in one of these green jobs? Check out Great Green Careers, a website that connects employers and job seekers.