On this Earth Day, green means jobs

While Philadelphia’s green jobs industry has by no means stagnated, the recession has forced the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability to revise its ambitious Greenworks plan of becoming the nation’s greenest city by 2015.

“Given the past years for our job market, the initial Greenworks goal isn’t really relevant anymore in this economic context,” said Katherine Gajewski of the Mayor’s Office for Sustainability. “We are working with the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board to see, coming out of the recession, what the baseline economy is and what new goal we will set from there.”

Green jobs — which include weatherization, solar panel installation, energy-efficiency upgrades, policymaking and sustainable design — still represent a growing industry. Even with growth, green jobs still don’t account for much of the state’s jobs.

“Overall, the number of green jobs are a modest share of the economy — 3.4 percent statewide,” acknowledged Steve Herzenberg, executive director of Keystone Research Group. “But the growth of green jobs is faster than projected for job growth generally; and in this economy, every job counts.”

“There is ample evidence that green jobs have grown in Philadelphia when employment overall was declining,” echoed Meg Shoppe Koppel of the Workforce Investment Board.

Philadelphia’s green industry will continue to grow, national trends permitting. “If we as a country are going to place an increased value on efficiency and clean energy sources, the job growth will come with that,” said Gajewski. “If the broader federal and state economic context is driving towards additional clean energy investments, Philadelphia will do well.”

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