Green jobs growing in California, Next 10 says
Employers offering jobs in fields such as solar power generation, electric vehicle development, environmental consultation and more added 5,000 jobs in 2008. About 174,000 Californians were working in eco-friendly fields by early 2009, compared with 111,000 in 1995, said nonprofit research group Next 10.
The report, released late Tuesday, looks at the most recent data available, Next 10 said.
The so-called green workforce expanded 3% from January 2008 to January 2009 -– three times the growth of overall employment around the state. Standouts include the energy-generation sector, which includes renewable-energy efforts such as wind and hydropower.
"There's very few business sectors that can employ people across every region, especially in a state as big as California," said entrepreneur F. Noel Perry, who founded Next 10. "Green is providing a very solid foundation for future growth."
Perry credited state policies -- such as renewable-energy mandates and incentives for energy efficiency -- for supporting the "green economy."
The Bay Area grew the most, with an 8% jump in 2008. The region now represents 28% of green jobs and 26% of companies offering the positions.
San Diego saw a 7% increase as the local energy-generation industry –- primarily solar and wind companies -- beefed up hiring by 39% in 2008 compared with the year before.
In Orange County, which also did well, workers were hired to support the burgeoning fuel cell market, anchored by the National Fuel Cell Research Center at UC Irvine. Employment in clean transportation also jumped as newcomers such as hybrid electric vehicle maker Fisker Automotive moved in and employers drew from the region's strong auto heritage.
But green hiring is down slightly in both the Los Angeles area and the Inland Empire, where the impact of the economic downturn on the construction industry trickled into energy-efficiency retrofit companies. Green transportation companies buoyed the green economy there, developing battery technologies and alternative fuels such as algae.
-- Tiffany Hsu
Photo: Workers perform maintenance on equipment used to produce solar cell modules at the Solyndra Inc. plant in Fremont, Calif. Credit: Ken James/Bloomberg