Where are the Jobs? Increasingly, They’re in Sustainability

Unemployment is still hovering around 9%, an unencouraging picture for politicians looking to get reelected in 2012. For President Obama, the good news is in the green movement. Sustainability related job postings continue to surge forward, even as the rest of the economy stagnates.

Even the Wall Street Journal, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News right wing media empire, has jumped on the green job bandwagon, saying “positions tied to sustainability and renewable energy” represented a potential “bright spot.” Mirroring a larger trend, the article cites Coca-Cola and United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) as having ramped up hiring of sustainability professionals to lead up services such as ingredient sourcing, recycling, water management and climate protection.

Solar energy is also a hot spot, with First Solar, one of the biggest players, hiring 400 positions right now, and planning aother 1200 in the next year and a half. Suniva, a manufacturer of solar cells, is also hiring, having grown by about 20% since the beginning of the year.

A recent survey conducted by Indeed.com also showed substantial growth across green sectors. Job postings in the survey containing the green keywords such as ‘sustainability’ jumped 400% from May of 2009 to the same time this year. Postings for wind energy jobs jumped about 200% in the same period, and solar jobs jumped about 150%.

The economic stimulus package is credited with creating quite a few of these jobs, both through direct incentives for energy efficiency projects as well as through loan guarantees which freed up credit and loans for companies to conduct projects on a larger scale, such as solar thermal development and wind farms.

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Scott Cooney, Principal of GreenBusinessOwner.com and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill, November 2008), is also a serial ecopreneur who has started and grown several green businesses and consulted several other green startups. He co-founded the ReDirect Guide, a green business directory, in Salt Lake City, UT. He greened his home in Salt Lake City, including xeriscaping, an organic orchard, extra natural fiber insulation, a 1.8kW solar PV array, on-demand hot water, energy star appliances, and natural paints. He is a vegetarian, an avid cyclist, ultimate frisbee player, and surfer, and currently lives in the sunny Mission district of San Francisco. Scott is working on his second book, a look at microeconomics in the green sector.In June 2010, Scott launched GreenBusinessOwner.com, a sustainability consulting firm dedicated to providing solutions to common business problems by leveraging the power of the triple bottom line. Focused exclusively on small business, GBO's mission is to facilitate the creation and success of small, green businesses.