Jobs at clean-tech or alternative-energy companies have flourished in California, with nearly a quarter of them based in Los Angeles, a new study has found.
Employers offering jobs in fields such as solar-power generation, electric-vehicle development and environmental consultation added 5,000 jobs in 2008, the latest data available. In all, about 174,000 Californians were working in eco-friendly fields by early 2009, compared with just 111,000 in 1995, said nonprofit research group Next 10.
The study, which culled data from government and private reports, was released late Tuesday.
The so-called green workforce expanded 3% from January 2008 to January 2009 — three times the growth of overall employment around the state. Standouts include the energy-generation sector, which includes renewable-energy efforts such as wind and hydropower.
"There's very few business sectors that can employ people across every region, especially in a state as big as California," said entrepreneur F. Noel Perry, who founded Next 10. "Green is providing a very solid foundation for future growth."
The Bay Area grew the most, with an 8% jump in 2008. The region now represents 28% of green jobs and 26% of companies offering the positions.
San Diego had a 7% boost as the local energy generation industry — primarily solar and wind companies — beefed up hiring 39% in 2008 compared with the year before.
In Orange County, which also did well, workers were hired to support the burgeoning fuel-cell market, anchored by the National Fuel Cell Research Center at UC Irvine. Employment in clean transportation also jumped as newcomers such as hybrid-electric-vehicle maker Fisker Automotive moved in and employers drew from the region's strong existing auto heritage.
But green hiring is down slightly in the Los Angeles area and the Inland Empire, where the effect of the economic downturn on the construction industry trickled into energy-efficiency retrofitting companies.