Green Jobs and Income in Our Pandemic and Following
Join ESGX to learn how Green Jobs and Income is growing or shrinking in the US economy across industries that are "greener" or "less green" during the Covid-19 pandemic - and how the job mix and income mix is changing, impacting lower-wage workers, especially people of color.
What is a green job?
The definition of a green job is bigger than many people envision. A ‘green’ job is one whose objective is to create an environmental benefit of some kind,” explains Paula DiPerna, Special Advisor to CDP and founder of the Jobs and Environment Initiative.
“When you look at it that way, you realize that everything we buy, we design, we use, we invent, we dispose of, we eat, all of these things have to be reconsidered in light of environmental imperatives.”
Despite the devastating number of job losses in America today, industry professionals are hopeful about clean energy as a source of growth. A joint statement was issued by the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO).
NASEO Executive Director David Terry says, “We believe that recovery investments with the greatest potential economic development impact for America’s future will be those that prioritize equitable and sustainable energy solutions. Energy and climate investments and the nation’s 8.3 million energy jobs are a key part of the COVID-19 recovery solution.”
Adds David Foster, Distinguished Associate, EFI, and Lead Author of the 2020 U.S. Energy & Employment Report (USEER), “For the last five years the energy sector has created jobs 50 percent faster than the rest of the economy. Once we’ve defeated COVID-19, let’s put Americans back to work by modernizing our energy systems.”
Have Green Jobs Become our Lifeline?
“Getting America back to work—and in ways that create a stronger, cleaner economy in the future—requires bold ideas, big initiatives, and common-sense policies at both the state and federal levels,” according to the E2 report. It states that clean energy infrastructure jobs are important means of fixing the country’s power grid, building a national electric vehicle charging network, and creating a nationwide program to install energy upgrades and electrification.
Previous projections have indicated a million jobs will be generated in the clean energy sector by 2030.
A college education will not be the only way to get a foot in the door, however. While some green jobs require an advanced degree, others only require an associate’s degree. Training is offered by community organizations, government programs, community colleges, and four-year universities.
As more clean energy employees leave the workforce or retire, an opportunity arises to attract and employ workers from all backgrounds. There is much less racial diversity in the clean energy workforce compared to all occupations nationally. Less than 15 percent of the workforce is African-American and the number of Asian-American workers is under five percent. The number of women working in this energy sector is also underrepresented. At present, fewer than 20 percent of workers are female.
Economic and Planetary Health Following COVID-19
Looking into the future, the E2 report states, “Clean energy is uniquely capable of leading America’s recovery post-COVID-19.”
“Not only has the sector proven capable of delivering results during a time of economic recession, but it also has the room needed to quickly expand and absorb hundreds of thousands of new job seekers, Americans who need employment in order for the economy to fully recover.”
DiPerna sees the clean energy sector as a lifeline to the recovery. She says, “Any job, any work that produces an environmental benefit is probably on a growth curve because all of the natural resources that we are dependent upon, if they’re not actually finite, they’re very limited—and that requires more and more efficiency.”
She adds, “Clearly my personal view is that protecting the environmental health of this planet is a blueprint to re-industrialize the country in a green manner.”
On June 30th, ESGX will host "Green Jobs and Income in Our Pandemic" to discuss:
1. Are green jobs and worker income growing or shrinking during Covid-19?
2. Which workers and communities are most impacted by job losses and pay changes?
3. What solutions -- including a jobs guarantee -- could be implemented?