Wisconsin is ranked 13th in the nation for providing jobs in the “clean” or “green” economy, and Madison is 43rd of the 100 biggest metropolitan areas, a study released Wednesday by the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program says. It says 2.7 percent of all the jobs in Wisconsin and 3.5 percent of Madison area jobs are identified as clean economy positions.
In Madison, companies such as Virent Energy Systems, Sub-Zero Freezer and RMT environmental services consultants are considered part of the clean economy while statewide, such businesses as Bradley Corp., a Milwaukee area company that makes commercial plumbing fixtures, and Neenah Paper are among the so-called clean employers.
“It’s one of the few bright spots in the otherwise pretty bleak economic picture,” said Sarah White, senior associate with COWS, the UW-Madison Center on Wisconsin Strategy.
The Brookings report, produced with the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, identifies 39 segments of the economy involved in producing clean products, ranging from wind turbines to mass transit.
It used to be that businesses had to be involved in such activities as installing solar panels or manufacturing wind turbines to be considered green, but the broader definition used in the Brookings survey is more realistic, White said.
“Green jobs are spread across all industries and most occupations,” she said. “In our research for the past five years, the majority of green jobs will be across traditional occupations and industries. We believe that all jobs can and should be greener.”
The report says between 2003 and 2010, Madison added 3,122 clean jobs, for a 4.3 percent increase in employment in that category. The estimated median wage is $43,466 a year, which is higher than the median wage of $39,730 for all jobs in the Madison area, the study says.
Nationwide, as many as 2.7 million people have clean economy jobs, the report says, and about 26 percent of them are in manufacturing, compared to 9 percent in the economy as a whole.
“The clean economy sector is already an important source of industrial innovation, good-paying manufacturing jobs and exports for a nation that needs them,” said Mark Muro, co-author of the report. “Key segments show great promise for helping us use resources more efficiently, improving our national security, protecting our environment and remaining competitive in rapidly changing global markets.”
But other countries, such as China and Germany, have provided more support for clean economy development, the report says. It recommends such steps as setting up national clean energy standards and creating financing systems and tax provisions to encourage clean economy investment.
Milwaukee ranked 40th among metro areas. Topping the list of cities with green jobs were New York; Los Angeles; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; and Philadelphia.