Posting in Cities
When it comes to green jobs, the place to start counting is with small businesses
Just came across this column from Newsweek, which I am betting will be used by every green and corporate sustainability naysayer who hopes to keep the status quo when it comes to the way we run businesses here in the United States. The title is simply this: "Growing Green Jobs: Beware politicians promising to put millions to work in a new 'green economy.' They can't deliver."
The columnist riffs on a new McKinsey Consulting study that researches where employment growth might emerge as the economy shifts back into growth mode. That study shows that so-called clean technology jobs account for only 0.6 percent of the American workforce. A teeny tiny number that is only slight more than those employed in the semiconductor sector.
Fair enough, and I respect McKinsey for taking the next step in its analysis, which is to point out that these numbers don't account for the thousands and millions of jobs that will be affected by green technologies or business and corporate sustainability practices.
Fact is, many of the companies who are charging forward with the green movement are small businesses or businesses inspired by advances in clean technology. Take the case of SolarCity, the innovative solar installer and financing company that I wrote about earlier this week. The company has roughly 530 employees, now, which is double what it employed a year ago. Technically, this is a small business. But when you consider that there are around 500 solar installers in California alone, the numbers start to add up.
In fact, I'll bet if you counted the jobs that have been created by all the carbon management and environmental software companies that have cropped up over the past year or those that are employed handling technology virtualization projects around the world, you would come up with thousands more. What about the corporate sustainability experts that are now on the payrolls of most major enterprise companies in the United States?
So, beware those who start using numbers like the McKinsey data to declare that the green economy is a figment of our imagination. Going back to that semiconductor employment number (which is less than 1 percent of the U.S. workforce) and think about all the jobs that have been created that are related to information technology. Now, dig deeper and think about the ways that sustainability philosophies are reshaping fundamental business practices, and I think you'll come up with a much larger number indeed.
Green jobs aren't a myth, they are just hard to count.
Mar 24, 2010
Sorry but I don't buy it. They are hard to count because green jobs ARE a myth 1.Myth: Everyone understands what a green job is. Reality: No standard definition of a green job exists. 2.Myth: Creating green jobs will boost productive employment. Reality: Green jobs estimates include huge numbers of clerical, bureaucratic, and administrative positions that do not produce goods and services for consumption. 3.Myth: Green jobs forecasts are reliable. Reality: The green jobs studies made estimates using poor economic models based on dubious assumptions. 4.Myth: Green jobs promote employment growth. Reality: By promoting more jobs instead of more productivity, the green jobs described in the literature encourage low-paying jobs in less desirable conditions. Economic growth cannot be ordered by Congress or by the United Nations. Government interference ? such as restricting successful technologies in favor of speculative technologies favored by special interests ? will generate stagnation. 5.Myth: The world economy can be remade by reducing trade and relying on local production and reduced consumption without dramatically decreasing our standard of living. Reality: History shows that nations cannot produce everything their citizens need or desire. People and firms have talents that allow specialization that make goods and services ever more efficient and lower-cost, thereby enriching society. 6.Myth: Government mandates are a substitute for free markets. Reality: Companies react more swiftly and efficiently to the demands of their customers and markets, than to cumbersome government mandates. 7.Myth: Imposing technological progress by regulation is desirable. Reality: Some technologies preferred by the green jobs studies are not capable of efficiently reaching the scale necessary to meet today?s demands and could be counterproductive to environmental quality.