Report: US sustainability sector adds up to a million jobs inside five years


New study reveals wind and solar sectors are growing their workforce at rate 12 times faster than the rest of the US economy

President Trump’s assault on environmental policies could have a significant impact on US employment, according to a new report detailing how the American green jobs market has expanded rapidly in recent years employing an estimated 4.5 million people.

The study from the Environmental Defence Fund’s Climate Corps initiative, which provides sustainability training to a range of corporations, claims the ‘sustainability’ sector in the US currently employs between four million and 4.5 million people, representing a sharp increase on the 3.4 million jobs recorded in 2011.

The report covers a wide range of sectors, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, and corporate sustainability and environmental training roles. However, it particularly highlights the rapid growth seen in the wind and solar industries, where total employment is said to be growing at around 20 per cent a year, outstripping the national employment growth rate by 12 to one.

The report also argues the green jobs market is spread right across the US and has created relatively well-paid roles that are resistant to outsourcing and overseas relocation.

“Due to the on-site nature of many renewable and energy efficiency jobs, these jobs cannot be outsourced and can pay above average wages,” the report states. “Many jobs in the solar and energy efficiency space are in installation, maintenance and construction, making them inherently local and contributing to the growth of local economies. Average wages for energy efficiency jobs are almost $5,000 above the national median, and wages for solar workers are above the national median of $17.04 per hour.”

Writing in a blog post to accompany the new report, EDF’s Liz Delaney warned President Trump’s early moves to roll back environmental policies could have an adverse impact on the jobs market.

“Investments in clean energy and sustainability pay off in the long run and foster a stronger economy – that equals more jobs and a cleaner future,” she added. “This is why businesses are increasing their investments in sustainability. A recent survey found that three quarters of firms now have dedicated sustainability budgets, and even more have hired additional sustainability staff. But that doesn’t surprise me. Corporate America understands that prosperity and a low-carbon economy go hand-in-hand, and should continue to support investment in this area.”

She also argued that policy makers at all levels needed to recognise there was a “new job class” emerging that needed nurturing.

“Efforts to roll back or weaken environmental and energy policies will negatively impact current and future U.S. jobs, while slowing clean energy innovation,” she warned. “If the question is how to help both the environment and the economy, we don’t have to search for the answer: it’s already here. America is transitioning to a clean energy future – we can’t afford to stand in its way.”


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