Green Jobs

Measuring Green Jobs

Announcements

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) received funding beginning in Fiscal Year 2010 to develop and implement the collection of new data on green jobs. These activities are being conducted through the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) and Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) programs. This web page provides information on the BLS green jobs initiative, the status of survey development, the BLS green jobs definition, a link to career information for selected green jobs, and other information.

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Overview of the BLS Green Jobs Initiative

The goal of the BLS green jobs initiative is to develop information on (1) the number of and trend over time in green jobs, (2) the industrial, occupational, and geographic distribution of the jobs, and (3) the wages of the workers in these jobs.

The resulting information will be useful for evaluating policy initiatives and the labor market impact of economic activity related to protecting the environment and conserving natural resources. BLS activities also will be useful to State labor market information offices in their efforts to meet the information needs of policymakers, businesses, and job seekers.

Overall approach to measuring green jobs

BLS is using two approaches to measuring green jobs: (1) the output approach, which identifies establishments that produce green goods and services and counts the associated jobs, and (2) the process approach, which identifies establishments that use environmentally friendly production processes and practices and counts the associated jobs.

In the output approach, BLS is concerned with jobs related to producing a specific set of goods and services, and is not concerned with the environmental impact of the production process. The output approach alone, however, would not cover some activities and associated jobs that favorably impact the environment although the product or service produced is itself not "green." The process approach is intended to address this aspect of green jobs. In the process approach, BLS is concerned with whether the business uses practices or technologies that have a favorable impact on the environment, regardless of the good or service produced. The process approach is relevant to any industry. Each approach requires different measurement strategies and will tend to count different jobs, with some overlap in industries that produce green goods and services.

Developing the BLS Green Jobs Definition

The BLS green jobs definition contains two components, consistent with the output and process approaches. BLS will undertake separate data collection activities for each component, as described later on this page.

Green jobs are either:

  1. Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources.
  2. Jobs in which workers' duties involve making their establishment's production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.

How BLS developed the green jobs definition. While the topic of green jobs is of interest across government, academia, and the business community, various studies define the term differently. BLS reviewed a wide range of studies, including several surveys conducted by State Workforce Agencies and work conducted internationally. BLS also consulted with a variety of stakeholders, including Federal agencies, the State labor market information offices, and industry groups. The common thread through the studies and discussions is that green jobs are jobs related to preserving or restoring the environment. Several categories of green activity are nearly universally cited: producing energy from renewable sources, improving energy efficiency, preventing and cleaning up pollution and greenhouse gases, and conserving natural resources.

The studies reviewed showed that neither of the standard classification systems used in BLS data, the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) and the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC), identifies a green or environmental grouping of industries or occupations.

BLS worked to develop a definition that is objective and measurable. In addition, because BLS data about jobs are categorized and described according to industry (product or service produced) and occupation (type of work performed), BLS data on green jobs will be based on NAICS and SOC. Using these standard classifications will allow comparison of green jobs data with existing measures of employment and wages that are based on NAICS or SOC, as well as meet Office of Management and Budget statistical standards. Within NAICS, BLS may develop information for more detailed subcategories.

BLS published its proposed definition in the March 16, 2010, Federal Register and solicited comments on the definition. During the comment period, BLS also consulted further with other Federal agencies. In the September 21, 2010, Federal Register, BLS published the final definition, along with a summary of and response to the comments received in response to the March 16, 2010, notice.

Measuring jobs associated with producing green goods and services

To implement the output approach, BLS will collect data on jobs associated with producing green goods and services through a mail survey of a sample of establishments identified as potentially producing such products and services based on their NAICS classification. The purpose of the Green Goods and Services (GGS) survey is to identify whether the establishment is producing any green goods and services and, if so, to measure the number of associated jobs in the establishment.

The BLS methodology will estimate the number of green jobs for a NAICS industry based on the green jobs found at individual establishments classified within the industry. The methodology does not simply designate an industry as "green" and count all jobs in that industry as green jobs, since establishments in the industry may also produce goods and services that are not considered green.

In addition to the number of jobs by industry associated with GGS production, BLS will estimate the occupational employment and wages for establishments identified as producing green goods and services. These estimates will be based on data collected from establishments in the GGS survey through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program. The OES survey sample will be supplemented as needed.

Data to be produced. The GGS survey will result in data on the number of jobs related to production of green goods and services, total and by industry and by ownership (public and private), for the Nation, States, and the District of Columbia.

The expanded OES collection will result in estimates of employment and wages by detailed 2010 SOC occupation for the same scope of industries, ownerships, and geography.

Identifying industries that produce green goods and services. The GGS survey and the expanded OES collection will include wage and salary employment in industries identified as potentially producing such products and services based on their NAICS classification.

BLS has identified 333 detailed (6-digit NAICS) industries where green goods and services are classified. This industry list (PDF) (XLS) constitutes the scope for the GGS survey. For these industries, the survey will identify establishments that actually produce green goods and services and estimate the number of associated jobs. The industry list is summarized below, showing the industry sector with detailed industries in scope, the number of establishments in these detailed industries, and these establishments as a percent of all establishments in scope. Data are 2009 annual averages from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.

Number and percent distribution of establishments in industries where green goods and services are classified, by industry sector, 2009
Industry sector Number of establishments Percent distribution

Construction

820,700 38.1

Professional and business services

779,100 36.2

Other services (Repair and maintenance services, Professional organizations)

183,300 8.5

Natural resources and mining

88,700 4.1

Information

77,000 3.6

Manufacturing

77,700 3.6

Trade, transportation, and utilities

49,300 2.3

Public administration

42,100 2.0

Education and health services

26,400 1.2

All other sectors

10,400 0.5

Total

2,154,700 100.0

Using standards. BLS is using Federal product ratings or standards, where they exist, to determine which goods and services to include as green goods and services. Such standards provide an objective method to distinguish green goods and services from other similar goods or services. These standards also help BLS clearly communicate to respondents which goods and services they produce should be reported on the survey, and to communicate to data users what products and services are represented in the resulting data on associated jobs.

Examples of such Federal standards include USDA Certified Organic and Energy Star. Well established and widely recognized industry standards also are used to the extent they are objective and measurable. An example of such an industry standard is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. A potential limitation of using these types of labeling programs is that they are voluntary and some employers may not participate although they may in fact meet the standards.

Using share of revenue to estimate share of employment. If a business establishment produces a single good or service, and if the good or service is green according to the BLS definition, all jobs at that establishment will be counted as green jobs, including production, management, and administrative staff. For sampled establishments that produce more than one good or service, the GGS survey will capture the share of establishment revenue received from the sale of green goods and services (an alternative will be used for establishments little or no revenue from sale of products or services). BLS will use the revenue share as a proxy for the share of the establishment's employment associated with the production of green goods and services. BLS research and field tests of the GGS survey forms to date indicates businesses are unlikely to be able to report shares of employment related to the green good or service and that revenue share is both a reasonable proxy and collectable.

Sample design. The GGS survey sample design is currently under development. The sampling frame, or universe, is a list of establishments developed under the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) program. It is based on mandatory reporting under each State's unemployment insurance (UI) system and augmented with other BLS collections to improve accuracy and to add federal government establishments. Employers are required by law to file these reports with the State where each establishment is located. For the GGS survey, the sampling frame consists of establishments in the QCEW for the industries identified as potentially producing green goods and services. (PDF) (XLS)

A note on agriculture: the GGS survey includes certain industries in NAICS major group 11, Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing. Although most of these industries are not included in other BLS establishment surveys, BLS had concluded that these industries should be surveyed for green jobs. Coverage is not as complete as in most other sectors, however, because the coverage of agriculture by unemployment insurance law varies somewhat from State to State. All States meet the coverage required by Federal law, that is, establishments that paid wages of at least $20,000 in any calendar quarter in the current or preceding calendar year, or that employed 10 or more workers on at least 1 day in each of 20 different weeks.

Expanded OES collection. BLS intends to collect occupational and wage data from establishments sampled for the Green Goods and Services survey using the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey questionnaires. These data will allow estimation of occupational staffing patterns, employment, and wages for those establishments reporting green goods or services and for those not reporting such goods or services. BLS has not yet developed the specific estimation methods to account for establishments that report producing both green and nongreen goods or services.

Schedule. The Green Goods and Services survey is currently under development. Data collection is planned for early 2011 and annually thereafter. Data publication is planned for the Spring of 2012 and annually thereafter.

Measuring the number of jobs related to the use of environmentally friendly production processes

For the process approach, BLS is developing a special employer survey to test the feasibility of collecting data on jobs associated with the use of environmentally friendly production processes.

Environmentally friendly production processes and practices are those that reduce the negative impact on the environment or natural resources resulting from production of any good or service. These production processes and practices include (1) production of green goods and services for use within the establishment, and (2) use of methods, procedures, practices, or technologies that have a positive environmental or natural resources conservation impact.

Examples of environmentally friendly processes and practices include generating solar power for use within a retail establishment, using high MPGe vehicles to transport employees, redesigning product packaging to reduce the use of plastics, and collecting and recycling waste created during a manufacturing process.

In the special employer survey, BLS will identify whether the establishment uses environmentally friendly processes and practices and, if so, whether it employs any workers whose duties are related to these processes and practices. Such workers may be performing a variety of activities, such as:

When development of the process approach survey nears completion, BLS plans to publish a Federal Register Notice presenting the concepts for comment.

Data to be produced. The special employer survey will result in data on the number of wage and salary jobs related to use of environmentally friendly production processes. Data will be employment and wages by detailed 2010 SOC occupation, for the Nation and by Census region.

Survey coverage and scope. All industries within the scope of the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) except private households are in scope for the special employer survey, as well as the rail transportation industry. The sampling frame will be the list of establishments in the QCEW, supplemented with a frame covering establishments in rail transportation (NAICS 4821).

A note on agriculture: all industries in NAICS major group 11, Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing, fall within the scope of the green process survey. Although most of these industries are not included in other BLS establishment surveys, BLS had concluded that these industries should be surveyed for green jobs. See discussion of sample design for the GGS survey for additional information on coverage in agriculture.

Schedule. The green process survey is currently under development. Data collection is planned to begin in Summer 2011, and data publication is planned in Summer 2012.

The BLS Green Jobs Definition

BLS has developed this definition of green jobs for use in data collection in two planned surveys. Green jobs are either:

  1. Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources.
  2. Jobs in which workers' duties involve making their establishment's production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.

The BLS approach to identifying each type of green job for measurement purposes is described in more detail below. The planned BLS surveys may identify and count some jobs twice.

  1. Jobs in businesses that produce goods and provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources. These goods and services are sold to customers, and include research and development, installation, and maintenance services. This definition will be used in the BLS survey of establishments in industries that produce green goods and services. Green goods and services fall into one or more of five groups:

    1. Energy from renewable sources. Electricity, heat, or fuel generated from renewable sources. These energy sources include wind, biomass, geothermal, solar, ocean, hydropower, and landfill gas and municipal solid waste.
    2. Energy efficiency. Products and services that improve energy efficiency. Included in this group are energy-efficient equipment, appliances, buildings, and vehicles, as well as products and services that improve the energy efficiency of buildings and the efficiency of energy storage and distribution, such as Smart Grid technologies.
    3. Pollution reduction and removal, greenhouse gas reduction, and recycling and reuse. These are products and services that:
  2. Natural resources conservation. Products and services that conserve natural resources. Included in this group are products and services related to organic agriculture and sustainable forestry; land management; soil, water, or wildlife conservation; and stormwater management.
  3. Environmental compliance, education and training, and public awareness. These are products and services that:

  • Jobs in which workers' duties involve making their establishment's production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources. These workers research, develop, or use technologies and practices to lessen the environmental impact of their establishment, or train the establishment's workers or contractors in these technologies and practices. This definition will be used in the BLS survey of establishments across all industries to identify jobs related to green technologies and practices used within the establishment. These technologies and practices fall into one or more of four groups:
    1. Energy from renewable sources. Generating electricity, heat, or fuel from renewable sources primarily for use within the establishment. These energy sources include wind, biomass, geothermal, solar, ocean, hydropower, and landfill gas and municipal solid waste.

    2. Energy efficiency. Using technologies and practices to improve energy efficiency within the establishment. Included in this group is cogeneration (combined heat and power).
    3. Pollution reduction and removal, greenhouse gas reduction, and recycling and reuse. Using technologies and practices within the establishment to:
      • Reduce or eliminate the creation or release of pollutants or toxic compounds, or remove pollutants or hazardous waste from the environment.
      • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions through methods other than renewable energy generation and energy efficiency.
      • Reduce or eliminate the creation of waste materials; collect, reuse, remanufacture, recycle, or compost waste materials or wastewater.
    4. Natural resources conservation. Using technologies and practices within the establishment to conserve natural resources. Included in this group are technologies and practices related to organic agriculture and sustainable forestry; land management; soil, water, or wildlife conservation; and stormwater management.

    Green Jobs Career Information

    The Division of Occupational Outlook periodically publishes career information on green jobs. The information available for occupations includes: wages, expected job prospects, what workers do on the job, working conditions, and necessary education, training, and credentials. Please visit the green careers page for more information.

    Green Jobs FAQs

    1. Does BLS include local and regional food networks or include locally produced foods as green?
    2. Does the BLS definition of green jobs consider criteria such as good wages, union membership, worker safety, benefits, or career ladders?
    3. Will BLS collect data on the demographic characteristics of workers in green jobs?
    4. The categories of green goods and services are not necessarily independent. The same is true with the categories of green practices and technologies. Will BLS publish data for these categories?
    5. Is the trading of certificates and offsets included as a green service?
    6. Where is energy storage and distribution categorized, including the electric power grid and battery technologies?
    7. Does the "energy efficiency" category include both "energy efficiency products" and "energy-efficient production of any product"?
    8. Why is the production of organic agricultural products included as a green good, but processing of these products is not included?
    9. Metals, glass, and paper pulp containing recycled content are identified as green goods. Why are products made from metals, glass, and pulp containing recycled content not included?
    10. Won't BLS miss jobs related to green goods and services produced by firms classified in NAICS that are not on the industry list?
    11. Are self-employed workers included in the BLS count of green jobs?
    12. Why does BLS count jobs in all occupations in the establishment in the green goods and services survey? There does not seem to be a need to count support jobs, such as administrative staff, because their job duties are not affected directly by the green product or service and thus they do not require additional training.
    13. Why is the distribution of green goods excluded from the BLS definition of green goods and services?

    Does BLS include local and regional food networks or include locally produced foods as green?

    Food producers who distribute locally and businesses that purchase locally produced food have adopted an environmentally friendly process that will be covered in the process survey.

    Does the BLS definition of green jobs consider criteria such as good wages, union membership, worker safety, benefits, or career ladders?

    No. Using such criteria would require BLS to determine, for example, what level of worker safety is high enough for the job to be included as a green job. Making such determinations would be inappropriate for a statistical agency, which must refrain from policy advocacy to main its credibility among data users. However, data users may make use of information on worker safety, wages, and other topics to select jobs from the BLS data that meet their own criteria regarding these topics.

    Will BLS collect data on the demographic characteristics of workers in green jobs?

    BLS does not plan to collect demographic data in its surveys. However, users may be able to supplement the BLS green jobs data with demographic data from other sources.

    The categories of green goods and services are not necessarily independent. The same is true with the categories of green practices and technologies. Will BLS publish data for these categories?

    The categories do overlap and are not intended to be mutually exclusive. The purpose of the categories is to establish the scope of green jobs. BLS may decide to tabulate data from the green goods and services survey according to these categories, recognizing that such a tabulation would sum to greater than the total number of green jobs identified, and requires clear explanation to data users. Alternatively, BLS may decide to assign each industry where green goods or services are produced to only one category, so the categories sum to the total number of green jobs identified.

    Is the trading of certificates and offsets included as a green service?

    Yes, this activity is included. It is categorized in renewable energy or in pollution and greenhouse gas reduction and cleanup, depending on what is being traded.

    Where is energy storage and distribution categorized, including the electric power grid and battery technologies?

    Improving the efficiency of the electric power grid, including Smart Grid technologies, is in green goods and services category 2, energy efficiency. Electric power distribution services are not included as a green service, consistent with the exclusion of distribution of other green goods and services. Construction of the power transmission facilities to connect new renewable energy sources to the grid is included in category 1, energy from renewable sources.

    Does the "energy efficiency" category include both "energy efficiency products" and "energy-efficient production of any product"?

    Yes. Both "energy efficiency products" and "energy-efficient production of any product" are included, with the latter identified as an environmentally friendly production process.

    Why is the production of organic agricultural products included as a green good, but processing of these products is not included?

    BLS has excluded processed organic agricultural products because the processing has no apparent benefit to the environment compared to processing any other food. The benefit to the environment of organic products occurs when they are grown.

    Metals, glass, and paper pulp containing recycled content are identified as green goods. Why are products made from metals, glass, and pulp containing recycled content not included?

    BLS has excluded the manufacture of intermediate and final goods from materials containing recycled inputs because these goods have no apparent benefit to the environment. The benefit to the environment of materials containing recycled inputs occurs when the materials are created, not when they are used in creation of other goods.

    Won't BLS miss jobs related to green goods and services produced by firms classified in NAICS that are not on the industry list?

    Establishments are classified into NAICS industries based on the goods or services that account for the majority of their revenue. Establishments not classified into an industry on the BLS list will not be included in the green goods and services survey. If a minority of their revenue is from sale of green goods or services, these goods or services and the jobs related to them will not be identified. BLS is aware of this limitation and notes that the size of this limitation is unknown.

    Are self-employed workers included in the BLS count of green jobs?

    No. This limitation is imposed by nature of the BLS business list that will be used as the sampling frame.

    Why does BLS count jobs in all occupations in the establishment in the green goods and services survey? There does not seem to be a need to count support jobs, such as administrative staff, because their job duties are not affected directly by the green product or service and thus they do not require additional training.

    The BLS green jobs definition is not based on skill differences, but instead on the environmental impact of the good or service produced or the production process used. However, data users can select from the occupations BLS identifies as occurring in establishments producing green goods and services which they wish to consider for training offerings.

    Why is the distribution of green goods excluded from the BLS definition of green goods and services?

    BLS has concluded that transporting or selling a green good has no apparent benefit to the environment compared to transporting or selling any other good.

    Federal Register Notices on Green Jobs

    Federal Register Notice, May 24, 2011 (PDF). BLS published a Notice concerning Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review and clearance for the Occupational Employment Statistics program's data collection plan to collect data on green technologies and practices. Comments on this Notice are due June 23, 2011.

    Federal Register Notice, February 24, 2011 (PDF). BLS published a Notice concerning Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review and clearance for the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program's data collection plan to collect data on green goods and services employment. Comments on this Notice were due March 28, 2011.

    Federal Register Notice, February 3, 2011 (PDF). BLS published a Notice concerning Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review and clearance for the Occupational Employment Statistics program's data collection plan to collect occupational employment and wage data for employees engaged in green practices within establishments. Comments on this Notice were due April 4, 2011.

    Federal Register Notice, November 10, 2010 (PDF). BLS published a Notice concerning Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review and clearance for the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program's data collection plan to collect data on green goods and services employment. Comments on this Notice were due January 10, 2011.

    Federal Register Notice, October 20, 2010 (PDF). BLS published a Notice concerning Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review and clearance for the Occupational Employment Statistics program to initiate a research project to develop a paper form and a web-based collection instrument to collect green jobs data related to environmentally friendly technologies and processes used by U.S. businesses. BLS intends to collect occupational employment and wage data from establishments that use environmentally friendly production processes and practices. Information from this research will be used to develop survey forms and a web-based collection instrument that will allow BLS to produce objective and reliable information on jobs associated with these practices and ensure that high quality data are collected. Comments on this Notice were due November 20, 2010.

    Federal Register Notice, September 21, 2010 (PDF). BLS published a Notice presenting its final green jobs definition, along with a summary of and response to the comments received in response to the March 16, 2010, notice. The Notice references the green goods and services industry list (PDF) (XLS), which identifies detailed North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industries that produce green goods and services as defined by BLS, as well as a list of industries that were added or dropped (PDF) compared to the list published with the March 16, 2010, Federal Register Notice.

    Federal Register Notice, June 30, 2010 (PDF). BLS published a Notice concerning Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review and clearance for the Occupational Employment Statistics program to initiate a research project to examine the collection environment and learn what information establishments have available that would help BLS collect occupational employment and wage data from establishments that use environmentally friendly production processes and practices. This information will be used to develop survey forms that allow BLS to produce objective and reliable information on jobs associated with these practices and ensure that high quality data are collected. Comments on this Notice were due August 30, 2010.

    Federal Register Notice, March 16, 2010 (PDF). BLS published a Notice that presented definitions BLS will use in measuring green jobs, describes in general how BLS plans to collect data on green jobs, and solicited comments on the definition and on specific questions concerning the definition. The Notice referenced the green goods and services industry list, which identifies detailed North American Industry Classification System industries that produce green goods and services as defined by BLS. Two versions of this list are available: one sorted by NAICS code (PDF), and one sorted by inclusion in green goods and services industries (PDF). Comments on this Notice were due April 30, 2010.

    Federal Register Notice, January 25, 2010 (PDF). BLS published a Notice concerning Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review and clearance for the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program to initiate a research project to understand the collection environment and learn what information establishments have available that would help BLS collect employment data on industry sectors that produce green goods and services. This information will be used to improve the eventual data collection instrument, increase response rates, and ensure high quality data are collected. Comments on this Notice were due February 24, 2010.

    Green Jobs FY 2010 Budget Information

    Information about the Fiscal Year 2010 budget for the green jobs initiative is available at www.bls.gov/bls/budget2010.htm.

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