Monday, May 11, 2009

Michigan Green Jobs Report 2009

Today, they are holding a "Green Today, Jobs Tomorrow" conference in Lansing, featuring such notables as Van Jones and Hilda Solis, to talk about the green economy and the jobs it has already created here and across the country, as well as the enormous potential the industry holds for the future. To coincide with that, the state released a study on where we stand right now with "green jobs" - and the results are quite remarkable. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Michigan boasts 109,067 private sector green jobs: 96,767 direct green jobs (people directly involved in generating a firm’s green-related products or services) and 12,300 green support jobs (anyone from a janitor to an accountant whose job is created to serve direct green work).

  • Clean transportation and fuels is the largest green economy area in Michigan, comprising just over 40% of green jobs and reflecting Michigan’s automotive heritage. If Michigan succeeds in developing alternative fuel, hybrid and electric vehicles, this sector may grow significantly.

  • There is huge potential for growth throughout the green economy. Today, green jobs represent just 3% of Michigan’s overall private sector employment of 3.2 million.

  • Indeed, from 2005 to 2008, a sample of 358 green related firms added more than 2,500 jobs to Michigan’s economy, an employment expansion rate of 7.7% -- compared to the total Michigan average of negative 5.4%.

  • Among the renewable energy production firms in that sample, the growth rate hit 30%. Renewable energy production, which today is the smallest green sector, may be the fastest growing.

  • The green economy appears to be a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity. Among our sample of 358 green-related firms, over 70 appeared to be newly created since 2005, accounting for nearly 600 jobs already.

  • Green jobs tend to pay well. Thirteen of the top 15 sectors of green employment have weekly wages above the overall private sector weekly average.

  • Green jobs encompass a wide range of occupations. Engineering and construction jobs are prominent, but many other jobs of all skill levels are required by the green economy.

  • Education and training are key for green\ employers. In multiple focus groups, employers emphasized the need for basics in math and reading with additional skills to be acquired on the - job or in school depending on the precise green job in question.

  • National RPS, anyone? The Obama administration is working towards that, it's only a matter of time. When it happens, let's hope that Michigan is well-positioned to take advantage of the demand it will create. Right now, things have slowed a bit in renewable energy because of the credit crunch, companies like Uni-Solar and Dowding Machining putting some folks on hiatus as they wait out the storm of this economy - but they will be back, and they will be back strong. Some proof: Because of our RPS, Consumers is seeking bids from private companies to create renewable energy projects (mainly wind farms at this point), and the figures they are throwing around will create many jobs. Added bonus - it can eliminate the need for coal plants as well.

    Consumers in January began seeking bids from third-party providers for small renewable projects. The 250 megawatts and 600,000 megawatt-hours roughly equates to a traditional base-load coal plant, Bishop said.

    "This is the big boys," Consumers spokesman Dan Bishop said. "That's a lot of power."

    The utility estimates the total value of the projects to be awarded – expected to be primarily wind farms – at more than $1 billion.

    "We anticipate this will lead to job-creation in Michigan," Bishop said.

    If we can make this a prominent sector of Michigan's economy, and somehow manage to keep some semblance of the auto industry too - there is great hope ahead. Just gotta survive this roller-coaster that we are on now, and not throw away our efforts in some misguided attempt to save state money.