Green jobs are as aspirational as they are enigmatic. We know we want them, we know they hold the key to the clean economy of the future, but no one can agree on what they are.
A new report from Brookings Institute attempts to offer a standard definition of clean jobs ("establishments that directly produce goods and services with environmental benefits, or produce uniquely tailored goods and services that add value to products with an environmental benefit"), and to quantify just how many of them there are.
The numbers are impressive. According to the report, 2.7 million Americans are employed in the clean economy — more than the number that work in the fossil fuel industry and twice as many that work in biotech.
Okay, so the report's definition of clean jobs includes careers you may not normally associate with the clean economy (ahem, bus driver and garbageman), but the fastest-growing segments are in clean energy. Solar thermal, solar photovoltaics, and wind energy were among the top five fastest-growing segments.
"The pace of growth really is torrid in that sector," said Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings program and a co-author of the report. "This confirms the intuition that these exciting industries really are growing as fast as we think they are."
This is an important start for the clean economy. Let's keep it moving.
Photo: The sun sets over the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility in Washington state. (Puget Sound Energy/Flickr)