This Labor Day, green careers shine

This Labor Day, as fast food employees across the nation went on strike and demanded a living wage, we took some time to reflect on job creation and the shrinking middle class. It turns out, renewable energy– and solar power in particular– is a bright spot in the current economic landscape.

Over the summer, job creation in the US has held steady, while federal job creation and job creation in the East has dropped dramatically. As Gallup explains, “U.S. workers’ reports of hiring are up slightly over July 2012, while their reports of layoffs are about the same.”

The good news? A study that was just released by Environmental Entrepreneurs displays the impressive progress of the clean energy sector. Highlights include:

  • Solar power careersIn the second quarter of 2013, 38,600 clean energy jobs were created.
  • Solar power alone accounted for over 10,000 of the new jobs.
  • Thanks to increased investment in renewables and clean transportation, Maryland and Hawaii join California as the states with the most green job creation.

“With Labor Day upon us and the country focused on jobs and the economy, clean energy and clean transportation projects continue to create jobs and drive economic growth from one end of the country to the other,” Environmental Entrepreneurs said.

It’s not just about job creation, though– it’s about creating jobs that can support a thriving middle class in America. As inequality increases, the middle class steadily disappears. 

Americans are well aware of this shift. Fewer and fewer consider themselves middle class, while a growing group defines themselves as belonging to the “lower class.” In fact, Pew results shows that 1/3 of those surveyed in 2012 say they belong to the “lower class,” up from 1/4 in 2008. Of those under the age of 29, nearly 40% classify themselves as belonging to the “lower class.”

This is why the rise of green jobs is especially heartening. According to Brookings, “The clean economy offers more opportunities and better pay for low- and middle-skilled workers than the national economy as a whole.”

Furthermore, demand for skilled workers in the green sector will grow as deman for clean energy continues to expand. A recent report from Environment America states:

America has more than three times as much solar photovoltaic capacity today as in 2010, and more than 10 times as much as in 2007. In the first three months of 2013, solar power accounted for nearly half of the new electricity generating capacity in the United States. The price of solar energy is falling rapidly, and each year tens of thousands of additional Americans begin to reap the benefits of clean energy from the sun, generated right on the rooftops of their homes or places of business.

In a gloomy economic landscape, solar power provides a welcome ray of hope.

What do you think about the role the clean energy sector has in job creation? Share your thoughts below, or shoot us an email. We’d love to hear your insights. 

Image of worker and solar panels courtesy of worradmu/

About Holly

Holly Jensen is a writer and poet who has worked with nonprofits and businesses for over a decade. She also serves as editor of The Ghazal Page, an international literary journal.
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