Golden State Has Green Jobs Galore

Green JobsNorthern California's Bay Area is turning green with envy, now that Los Angeles has surpassed it as the nation's leading eco-friendly employer. A recent report shows that there are more green jobs in the Los Angeles area than in any other region in the nation, and the number of green jobs is expected to double over the next several decades.

Most people think Hollywood entertainment is California's biggest industry, and while it's certainly the most well-known, green industry is burgeoning. The research, prepared by Philip Romero, the former dean of the California State University, Los Angeles, College of Business and Economics, shows that the green job sector has grown at triple the rate of the rest of the region's economy over the last 15 years. Green jobs now account for about 3.9 percent of total employment and 4.5 percent of private sector employment.

That's more than 10 times as many green workers in the L.A. region than in any other energy-oriented industry, including petroleum, which many people don't realize is also big in Southern California. Oil derricks are often discreetly hidden throughout Los Angeles, and you'll find them on movie lots, country clubs -- even on the Beverly Hills High School campus.

"The increase in total jobs stimulated by the growth of the clean-tech industry is far larger than California's entire mining industry, and roughly comparable to the utility or aerospace industries in their pre-recession peaks," says the report. "These projected gains will roughly equal the jobs lost statewide in the recession in the electronics manufacturing (high tech) and 'information' (software and publishing) industries."

The report shows that green industry jobs pay better than most. It makes the claim that since green occupations have such specific skill requirements, workers can make, "50 percent to 100 percent premiums over the average job." And that's not just in California -- that refers to green jobs anywhere.

"California's commitment to clean energy is starting to bear fruit -- in the form of high-wage, skilled jobs," said Tom Steyer, founder and co-managing partner of Farallon Capital Management, LLC and co-chair of the Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs Network. "Los Angeles is a great example of what is possible if we double-down on investments in clean energy, instead of continuing our reliance on fossil fuels." Which is saying a lot for an area that has more cars and busier freeways than just about anywhere in the U.S.

So which companies are making an effort to up the green job total in Los Angeles? Vaha Sustainable Energy, Bevilacqua-Knight, Inc. and Urban Land Institute are all hiring, and thousands of green jobs will be created if plans for NBC Universal's Universal City development go through.

The city of Los Angeles itself has created multiple green construction jobs by passing the Green Building Retrofit Ordinance in 2009, which requires all city-owned buildings larger than 7,500 square feet or built before 1978 to be retrofitted to meet certain ecological standards. The legislation also created a green jobs training program. All these efforts, little by little, are helping to turn the Golden State green.

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