It started during the 2010 election campaign and criticism of the Richmond City Council’s emphasis on sustainability continues from critics of Richmond’s focus on green jobs to alleviate our high unemployment rate. Today, two media reported what we have been saying for the last two years, that green jobs are where the new jobs are. “The report from the Next 10 public policy group,” wrote The Chronicle’s Brant Ward,“ found that the number of green jobs in the state grew 3 percent between January 2008 and January 2009, reaching 174,000 despite the deepening financial crisis. Employment throughout the California economy rose less than 1 percent.” Dana Hull of the Mercury News wrote, “The Bay Area -- a hub for solar manufacturing and other clean energy generation -- continued to post the state's strongest green employment gains, adding 2,500 jobs -- half of the 5,000 statewide -- during the January 2008 to January 2009 time frame.”
Featured in The Chronicle story is a photo of Richmond’s SunPower at the Ford Building.
Green jobs up 3% in 2008, Next 10 report finds
David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff Writer
San Jose solar panel company SunPower is the largest tenant at the Ford Point Center in Richmond.
Photo: Brant Ward / The Chronicle
California kept adding green jobs in 2008 even as the state's overall economy slowed to a crawl, according to an annual survey released Tuesday.
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The report, from the Next 10 public policy group, found that the number of green jobs in the state grew 3 percent between January 2008 and January 2009, reaching 174,000 despite the deepening financial crisis. Employment throughout the California economy rose less than 1 percent.
Nor was the growth in green jobs confined to the Bay Area, home to many clean-tech startups. The green economy appears to be taking root not just in the Golden State's cities, but its rural areas as well.
"It's unique in California in that there are very few industries that employ people in every region of the state," said F. Noel Perry, founder of Next 10. "We have a tremendously diverse economy to begin with. This is just going to become part of our economic rubric."
Perry pointed out that green jobs still make up a small fraction - about 0.9 percent - of all employment in the state. But since 1995, the number of green jobs in California grew 56 percent, while total employment rose 18 percent.
"They're modest compared to the overall job numbers, but they're growing," he said. "This is a very, very solid foundation."
Next 10's green economy survey, conducted with the Collaborative Economics consulting firm, uses more stringent standards than most. "The Many Shades of Green" survey only counts jobs in California's "core green" economy - businesses that provide alternative energy sources, conserve energy and natural resources, reduce pollution or find new uses for waste.
Other surveys have yielded higher employment estimates by using different approaches. The California Employment Development Department for example, estimates that 263,000 people in the state devote at least half of their time at work to producing green products and services, while an additional 170,000 spend a lesser share of their time on those activities.
The most recent Next 10 survey is the first to show how the state's green economy has fared during the economic downturn still gripping the nation. (The survey's methodology has the unfortunate side effect of producing data that is slightly more than a year old.)
Even as the global economy crumbled, the number of green jobs grew 8 percent in the Bay Area during 2008, reaching 47,881 jobs. Other regions of the state grew at a slower pace.
The survey found that different parts of California have developed different green specialties. The Bay Area is a hotbed for companies that specialize in solar power and other forms of alternative energy. But it also has a high concentration of jobs in energy storage, such as designing better batteries.
The Los Angeles area specializes in recycling, energy efficiency and clean transportation. The largely rural San Joaquin Valley has biofuel companies and renewable power facilities.
"Every region has its own unique advantages," said Doug Henton, chief executive officer of Collaborative Economics.
The survey also found strong growth in green manufacturing. Manufacturing accounts for 26 percent of the state's green jobs and grew by 10 percent during 2008. Manufacturing jobs, however, represent just 11 percent of all employment in the state.
"You have the whole occupational ladder here," Henton said. "You have the high-end R&D jobs, and you have the jobs that actually bring products to market. And those pay pretty well, too."
E-mail David R. Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared on page D - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
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Green jobs continue to grow amid the economic downturn
By Dana Hull
California's unemployment rate has hovered around 12.4 percent for almost a year. But a new report released late Tuesday shows that green jobs continued to grow amid the downturn.
California's "Core Green Economy" had 174,000 jobs in January 2009, up from 169,000 in January 2008, according to the report by Next 10, a nonpartisan think tank founded by philanthropist and venture capitalist Noel Perry.
The Bay Area -- a hub for solar manufacturing and other clean energy generation -- continued to post the state's strongest green employment gains, adding 2,500 jobs -- half of the 5,000 statewide -- during the January 2008 to January 2009 time frame.
The bulk of the state's green jobs are in services, such as environmental consulting and green marketing. But manufacturing represents 26 percent of all green employment -- a significant share, given that manufacturing represents just 11 percent of the state's total economy.
The report, called "Many Shades of Green: Regional Distribution and Trends in California's Green Economy," is the second annual report for Next 10 prepared by Collaborative Economics of Mountain View.
The report's authors point to California's long history of forward-thinking public policy as driving much of the state's green job growth.
"We've had a renewable portfolio standard for utilities and energy efficiency requirements for buildings for years," said Perry, who started Next 10 in 2003. "The bar has been raised here in California, and entrepreneurs and innovators are trying to reach that bar."
Job growth in the Bay Area can be found across cleantech sectors, particularly energy generation, carbon emissions monitoring, clean transportation and energy storage.
Picarro, a Sunnyvale company that makes scientific instruments to measure greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, had fewer than 50 employees last year. The headcount is now 70, and the company expects to have well more than 100 by this time next year. Palo Alto's Tesla Motors, which had about 500 employees a year ago, has well more than 800 today.
"There's a lot of excitement about energy storage," said Doug Henton of Collaborative Economics. "It's the holy grail. Everyone is trying to figure out how to develop advanced batteries and fuel cells."
Tracking green job growth can be difficult because there are several different ways to define "green jobs" and the "green economy." Collaborative Economics defines green jobs and businesses as those that conserve energy and natural resources, reduce pollution, repurpose waste and provide alternatives to carbon-based energy sources. The firm scoured employment databases and then reached out to individual companies in an effort to quantify the actual number of jobs created.
Contact Dana Hull at 408-920-2706.
The 15 segments of the 'core green economy'
1. Energy generation
2. Energy efficiency
3. Clean transportation
4. Energy storage
5. Air and environment
6. Recycling and waste
7. Water and wastewater
8. Agriculture support
9. Research and advocacy
10. Business services
11. Finance and investment
12. Advanced materials
13. Green building
14. Manufacturing and
15. Energy infrastructure
Source: Next 10 and Collaborative Economics. For a copy of the report, go to www.next10.org.