One way to think of the term “green jobs” is that it’s just mundane shorthand for policies that will shift the U.S economy toward cleaner sources of energy and less pollution.
But what specific sorts of jobs will this effort entail? The Brookings Institution recently put out a report noting that the “clean economy” sector, defined very broadly, employs some 2.7 million people. And the Center for American Progress breaks it down with a handy chart showing the biggest job-growth areas since 2003:
Note that many of these jobs are things that have been around for ages — mass transit, waste management, recycling. The biggest growth sector, “conservation,” involves fairly traditional jobs in land and forestry management. Republicans, meanwhile, will be less-than-thrilled to note that a big chunk of “green job growth” comes in handling new environmental regulations. It’s also true that what most people think of as prototypical green jobs — in, say, the wind and solar industries — represent just a small chunk of the overall total. Looked at another way, though, these are the areas with the most growth:
Assuming the country continues to pursue policies that promote renewable energy, these sectors could continue to grow, even though they start from a relatively small base.