Washington economy adds more green jobs in 2009

The Bellingham Business Journal

The number of private-sector “green jobs” in the state of Washington has risen by nearly a third over the last year, according to a new report by the state’s Employment Security Department (ESD).

“Leave it to the Evergreen State to grow green jobs in a tough economy,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire in a statement. “After two years of bad employment news, I’m delighted that our efforts to increase green jobs are working. If Washington can see this kind of shift to green jobs during a recession, just think what will happen as our economy recovers.”

Washington state defines a green job as one in which workers are helping to increase energy efficiency, produce renewable energy, or prevent, reduce or clean up pollution.

For the past two years, the ESD has conducted a statewide survey to count the number of green jobs in Washington. The 2008 survey found 47,194 green jobs among private-sector companies that were most likely to have green jobs. The 2009 survey, which was expanded to include government jobs as well as additional private industries, found 99,319 green jobs, totaling 3.3 percent of all jobs in Washington.

Among the private industries that were surveyed in both 2008 and 2009, green jobs grew by 15,100 (32 percent), to about 62,000 jobs. This was the only part of the 2009 report where year-over-year growth could be measured.

Private-sector industries that were surveyed for the first time in 2009 accounted for another 13,843 green jobs, and 23,182 green jobs were found in the public sector.

In 2009, 46 percent of the green jobs were involved in preventing and reducing pollution; 38.9 percent were involved in increasing energy efficiency; 11.6 percent of green jobs had responsibilities for mitigating or cleaning up pollution; and 3.5 percent were involved in producing renewable energy.

Most green jobs are in existing occupations and have traditional titles, but the jobs are evolving to incorporate green activities and responsibilities.

“We don’t really have a separate green economy. We have an economy that is becoming greener,” said Employment Security Commissioner Karen Lee.

From 2008 to 2009, the number of green jobs in construction increased by 29 percent – despite a 31 percent drop in total construction jobs since the start of the recession. The construction industry had more green jobs than any other, with 29,410, accounting for 38.6 percent of all green jobs.

Geographically, King County had the largest number (32,857) and percentage (33.1 percent) of green jobs, while the Benton-Franklin region had the most green jobs (8.2 percent) as a percentage of its overall employment, largely related to the Hanford nuclear-waste cleanup.

To read the full report, visit http://www.workforceexplorer.com/admin/uploadedPublications/10258_Green_Jobs_Report_for_Web_2009.pdf

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