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California green jobs more recession resistant, study says

February 07, 2012|By Tiffany Hsu
  • Workers install solar panels in West Los Angeles. A new report from nonprofit research group Next 10 says that green jobs held up better during the recession than other positions.
Workers install solar panels in West Los Angeles. A new report from nonprofit… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

While many industries in California were buckling under the weight of the recession, so-called green businesses were struggling too -- just not as much, according to a new report.

From January 2009 through January 2010, the overall state economy lost 7% of its jobs, according to nonprofit research group Next 10’s Many Shades of Green report. During the same period, the core green economy -- composed of businesses involved in renewable energy, clean-fuel cars, water conservation, emissions trading and more -- suffered a 3% job loss.

That left 169,800 green jobs in the state at the start of 2010. Regions such as San Diego, the Bay Area and Sacramento remained resilient with less than a 2% green employment decline. Los Angeles, which has more than 20% of all green jobs in the state, saw its positions slip 4% to 26,600.

The report suggests that amid volatile prices and tight markets, green entrepreneurs and their products and services will become increasingly competitive. California’s strong foundation of environmentally focused innovation and research, as well as its early-adopter culture, will also help.

Long-standing occupations such as electricians and machinery mechanics will have a new outlet through green jobs, according to the report. And new roles such as solar energy installation manager, chief sustainability officer and biofuels production manager could earn workers annual incomes well into the six figures.

In Los Angeles, green industries that deal with issues such as wastewater seemed recession-proof, growing 11% during the study period. Solar companies added 7% more positions.

But employment in the region’s recycling and waste, air and environment and energy efficiency businesses shrunk by 9%.

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