More than 3 million people are working in green jobs in the United States, according to a report out today from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s 2.4 percent of the nation’s total employment. Not many of them are in Rochester, but there’s hope for the future.
Green jobs are jobs that benefit the environment. Broadly defined, green jobs include manufacturers of wind turbines, organic farmers and bus drivers. We care about green jobs because we care about the planet. They’re also seen as a way to grow the economy, as demand for clean energy rises.
The BLS report is right in line with a recent Brookings Institution study. That study ranked Rochester very low in green jobs – 61 out of 100 metros. The study, using 2010 data, said we had only 8,385 green jobs, fewer than Syracuse and Buffalo. The biggest growth areas here are building materials, remediation and pollution reduction.
Rochester ranks low, despite Greater Rochester Enterprise’s aggressive recruiting of green companies. The prime location is considered to be Eastman Business Park, with its cheap power, available land and materials science knowledge. Natcore, maker of solar cells, opened a lab there recently, but has yet to start any manufacturing operations. The Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council had high hopes for a California energy company, but concerns about the park’s infrastructure put that on hold.
Rochester has other green technology assets. We’re home to the RIT Golisano Institute for Sustainability. There are two auto plants developing fuel cells. We also have a lot of energy companies.
The U.S. as a whole hasn’t capitalized on green technology, particularly in manufacturing, which might explain why Rochester appears to be lagging. If the economics of the field improve, Rochester is in a great position.