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Green-Collar Jobs, Defined and Counted

"Green-Collar Jobs, Defined and Counted(by Alan Durning via Sightline Daily)How to recognize a green jobNW state unemployment by county "It's hard to define what a green job
actually is."That's Michael Myers, an analyst for the Oregon employment department,
speaking recently in Florence, on the Oregon Coast, to an audience of
anxious members of the local chamber of commerce. He was answering
questions about where new employment opportunities will arise and
explaining the challenge of counting new, green jobs.Across Oregon and Cascadia, many are hoping for, and working towards, a
new, clean-energy economy that will usher in a healthy, lasting prosperity.
There's abundant reason for hope—even on the Oregon Coast, which has some
of the highest unemployment rates in the region.But green jobs aren't always easy for employment analysts like Michael
Myers to recognize, because they are scattered across most occupations and
industries. In fact, every job can be more or less green.This post lays out several approaches used in recent studies. If you're not
interested in job counting, I suggest you you move along.There are reasonable ways to define green jobs, and given those
definitions, authorities can count them. A decade ago, in Green Collar
Jobs, I divided all of Cascadia's jobs into three categories based on the
relative environmental impacts of the industries in which they were found:
"green-collar jobs" is what I called those jobs in the lowest impact
sectors of the economy such as services and information technology. By this
method, most jobs--more than 60 percent of the total--are green-collar jobs.In recent years, thanks to the leadership of green-economy evangelist and
now White House adviser Van Jones, "green-collar jobs" has come to refer to
employment directly related to environmental protection and energy
security, particularly mid-skill manual labor jobs in those fields.
Counting these positions is harder.Oregon is conducting a survey of green employment now and expects results
this fall. British Columbia's green jobs remain largely uncounted. One 2007
paper examined the size of the environmental business sector in Canada
overall, but it used a definition so narrow that it excludes most green
work. It also estimated these businesses' revenues, not their employment,
there's no tally to report. In Washington, two green-economy surveys
reported their findings in recent months.The larger of them, performed by Washington State University (WSU) for the
state's Employment Security Department (ESD), offers this descriptive
mouthful as its definition:"There is no uniform definition of a green job. In general, jobs that have
a direct, positive impact on the environment have become known as green
jobs; they include jobs at all levels of the earnings and skills spectrum,
from professional-level employment of managers, architects and engineers,
to jobs in the skilled trades, which are often referred to as green-collar
jobs. Some researchers note that green jobs are represented in nearly all
economies, industries, and occupations, suggesting that the question is
more about understanding what shades of green exist in an economy. Green
jobs are not necessarily new jobs, but often traditional jobs in industries
and companies that are adapting to new markets and opportunities available
in a clean energy economy. In whichever manner the green economy is
defined, however, forecasts about growth in green industries and
occupations have also generated keen interest among advocacy groups who
emphasize the potential of green jobs to promote jobs and career pathways
out of poverty for economically disadvantaged individuals, communities of
color, and for dislocated workers."If you were in charge of distinguishing green jobs from other jobs, this
passage wouldn't guide you much. For its tally, WSU actually adopted a
different and narrower definition: green jobs are those held by employees
who devote a "