Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment

By Mark Muro, Jonathan Rothwell and Devashree Saha
Washington, DC (July 13, 2011)- The “green” or “clean” or low-carbon economy-defined as the sector of the economy that produces goods and services with an environmental benefit-remains at once a compelling aspiration and an enigma. Seeking to help address the questions around the green economy, researchers at the Brookings Institution worked with Batelle to develop, analyze, and comment on a detailed database of employment statistics about the clean economy in the U.S. and its metropolitan areas.


“Sizing the Clean Economy: A national and Regional Green Jobs Assessment” concludes that:
* 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. Though modest in size, the clean economy employs more workers than the fossil fuel industry and bulks larger than bioscience but remains smaller than the IT-producing sectors. Most clean economy jobs reside in mature segments that cover a wide swath of activities including manufacturing and the provision of public services such as wastewater and mass transit.
* The clean economy offers more opportunities and better pay for low- and middle-skilled workers than the national economy as a whole. Median wages in the clean economy-meaning those in the middle of the distribution-are 13 percent higher than median U.S. wages.
* Among regions, the South has the largest number of clean economy jobs though the West has the largest share relative to its population. Most of the country’s clean economy jobs and recent growth concentrate within the largest metropolitan areas.
* 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.
* The clean economy is manufacturing and export intensive. Roughly 26 percent of all clean economy jobs lie in manufacturing establishments, compared to just 9 percent in the broader economy.
The Report recommends that governments help:
* Scale up the market by taking steps to catalyze vibrant domestic demand for low-carbon and environmentally-oriented goods and services.
* Ensure adequate finance by moving to address the serious shortage of affordable, risk-tolerant, and larger-scale capital that now impedes the scale-up of numerous clean economy industry segments.
* Drive innovation by investing both more and differently in the clean economy innovation system.

Related Resource:

Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment