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New Data Indicate "Green Goods and Services" Employ Several Times More People than Oil and Gas Industry

2 min. read

Yesterday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its first-ever annual survey on “Employment in Green Goods and Services” (GGS) in the United States. Here are a few key numbers:

*"In 2010, 3.1 million jobs in the United States were associated with the production of [GGS]."

*"GGS jobs accounted for 2.4 percent of total employment in 2010."

*"Manufacturing had 461,800 GGS jobs, the most among any private sector industry."

*"Among the states, California had the largest number of GGS jobs (338,400)," while "Vermont had the highest proportion of GGS employment at 4.4 percent."

Those statistics are impressive in and of itself, but they're even more impressive when we compare them to employment numbers in the mature, heavily subsidized oil and gas industry.

...According to U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data from 2009, the drilling and production of oil and natural gas directly generates 799,100 jobs, not 9.2 million.  If we generously expand the direct jobs to include all of the mining (including oil and gas) support jobs, the total increases to 1.12 million jobs – representing less than 1 percent of total U.S. jobs.

U.S. Department of Labor 2007 statistics indicate the drilling and production of oil and natural gas, plus support activities directly account for 425,025 jobs.  If we further expand direct oil and gas jobs to include questionable sectors such as oil refineries and natural gas distribution, the total increases to 743,825 jobs, not 9.2 million jobs.

In other words, it turns out that "green goods and services" actually employ several times more people (3.1 million) than the oil and gas industry (743,825-1.12 million jobs), according to U.S. government statistics.  Another way to look at it is as a percentage of the economy, where GGS accounts for 2.4% of total employment, while oil and gas clocks in at less than 1%.  Finally, as this analysis points out, many of the jobs claimed by the oil and gas industry are "low wage retail and mixed wage service sectors" (e.g., gas station attendants, convenience store clerks).

The bottom line is that, based on government statistics (not oil and gas industry spin), "green goods and services" -- renewable energy, energy efficiency, pollution reduction and removal, recycling,  environmental compliance, etc. - employ several times more people than the oil and gas industry does.  And, with investment surging to "unprecedented levels," installations of solar panels booming, and renewables the fastest-growing U.S. industry between 2007 and 2011, this gap is only likely to widen in coming years.  That's definitely a trend to look forward to.