Green-collar Jobs

January 31, 2009

During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama proposed an economic plan that would create five million jobs in environmental industries. And despite some ambiguity in the campaign literature, these so-called "green-collar" jobs do, in fact, present the next frontier for U.S. manufacturing, according to a new report from Duke's Center on Globalization, Governance, and Competitiveness.

Highlighting the direct links between low-carbon technologies and U.S. jobs, Duke researchers say U.S. manufacturing is poised to grow in a low-carbon economy. Their report, "Manufacturing Climate Solutions," provides a detailed look at the manufacturing jobs that already exist and those that would be created when the U.S. takes action to limit global-warming pollution.

"Until now, there was no tangible evidence of what the jobs are, how they are created, and what it means for U.S. workers," says Gary Gereffi, a professor of sociology and lead author of the report. "We are providing that here. We don't guess where the jobs are; we name them." The report shows that "clean-technology jobs are also real-economy jobs."

The researchers assessed five carbon-reducing technologies with potential for creating green jobs: LED lighting, high-performance windows, auxiliary power units for long-haul trucks, concentrated solar power, and Super Soil Systems (a new method for treating hog waste).

They concluded that hidden economic opportunities exist within the supply chains that provide parts and labor for these five industries. The report includes a snapshot of the opportunities for U.S. manufacturing jobs, with a detailed breakdown of the supply chains and maps highlighting the location of companies positioned to support green jobs. States that stand to benefit most from jobs in these sectors are Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California.