Last week we posted about green jobs and the general excitement and interest this sector is experiencing and we thought we’d follow up with some further discussion about the state of green.
Overall the unemployment rate is continuing to creep downward and currently standing at around 9.7%, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Oddly enough, manufacturing is seeing a surge in its numbers, although the industry-wide rate of unemployment is about 10.3%, compared to that of the Info/Tech Industry which is around 9.8%, about the same as the overall national average. BLS is planning to release unemployment numbers on the green industry in September of this year to help solidify our look at the state of things.
In the meantime it looks like, while there may be an increase in green job training, the opportunities do not extend equally across the industry. According to a recent article in the Dallas Morning News, the wind power industry is experiencing a nationwide slowdown due to the escalating cost of wind farm construction and components. The reasons are various but in Texas it appears to be heavily linked with the recent performance of natural gas on the market, which has seen consistently low prices. However, over in West Virginia it may be a different story: a recent report suggests that West Virginia’s coal mining industry, which accounts 9% of the state’s workforce may actually be costing the state money. Some groups have campaigned for constructing wind farms on the tops of W. VA.’s mountains instead of the environmentally harsh mountaintop removal.
Solar power, though struggling in the United States, is seeing an increased interest as well. In Europe, already well ahead of the U.S. in terms of solar energy production, a massive solar farm project was recently announced (read about it here, and here) that would entail the construction of vast numbers of panels and piping the produced electricity north. Solar panels have come a long way since their first boom in the 70’s and 80’s, they’re much more efficient and more readily available now, making it easier for small businesses and households to obtain at least some of their energy needs from the sun.
Given the recent Gulf tragedy and the increased scrutiny of the oil industry perhaps we are beginning to see the shift in thinking that United States so desperately needs in order to address its present and future energy needs. What are your thoughts on the green energy industry and its prospects here in the U.S.?
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