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Report Finds 100,000 Green Jobs in Michigan

Officials see ‘dynamic opportunity’ for global green leadership

July 27, 2009 | By Jim Dulzo
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

State of Michigan
  A state report says Michigan’s skilled workforce and career education facilities can make Michigan a leader in the rapidly growing green energy manufacturing sector. 
LANSING—Michigan now has more than 100,000 green jobs and has plenty of capacity to create more, according to a report released at this spring’s Green Today, Jobs Tomorrow Conference, in Lansing.

The report says that green job opportunities are growing in the state and that future jobs growth, particularly in higher-paying jobs, “rests overwhelmingly with the clean energy, green-collar economy.”

During a press briefing at the conference, Michigan Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth (DELEG) Deputy Director Andy Levin discussed the report, the opportunities it points to, and the importance of installing more aggressive state policies that can greatly accelerate green job growth in the state.

Mr. Levin, flanked by White House Special Advisor for Green Jobs Van Jones, emphasized that green jobs, particularly in the energy sector, continue to grow in Michigan even as other sectors of the state economy continue to shrink. The report confirms that, while the state has a surprisingly large number of green jobs, they currently comprise just three percent of the state’s workforce.

The two officials emphasized that, with Michigan’s advantages over most other states in natural resources, workforce skills, manufacturing and educational facilities, and transportation, the state could quickly take advantage of that room for growth. What was needed, they said at the press conference, were more policies and legislation that trigger business innovation by taking advantage of the Obama administration’s unprecedented investments in clean energy and energy efficiency—and the massive global shift toward green industry.

The 73-page DELG document, entitled Michigan Green Jobs Report: Occupations & Employment in the New Green Economy, said that about 90 percent of the state’s green jobs directly involve activity in five business sectors. The other 10 percent are viewed as “indirect jobs” that support, but do not directly involve, green economic activity.

The report, which collected responses from 6,434 private firms in the state, rigorously defines green jobs and lists hundreds of job categories scattered across those five sectors. Not surprisingly, given the state’s auto history, the largest nuymber of jobs are in the clean transportation and fuels sector—41 percent. That’s followed by increased energy efficiency (23 percent), agriculture and conservation (13 percent), pollution prevention and cleanup (13 percent), and renewable energy production (9 percent).

The report concludes that the state’s recent renewable energy and energy efficiency mandates for utilities and its new incentives for advanced battery technology companies are already starting to show results less than a year after they were enacted—particularly for wind power and energy efficiency firms and installers.

The DELEG report also points out that the agency’s own $6 million Green Jobs Initiative and large parts of the Obama administration’s American Reinvestment and Recovery Act are designed to greatly accelerate these trends. The report closes by listing renewable energy, energy efficiency, and battery technology as major opportunities for the state because of Michigan’s built-in advantages in manufacturing, skilled trades, engineering, and research universities.

“We know that the powerful combination of policy efforts and private sector activity will be vital to Michigan’s future,” the report said.

Both Mr. Levin and Mr. Jones echoed the DELEG reports final paragraph: putting more pro-green incentives and policies in effect is the key to fully exploiting Michigan’s green jobs potential.

Jim Dulzo, the Michigan Land Use Institute’s managing editor, coordinates its work on coal and clean energy policies. Reach him at jimdulzo@mlui.org.

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