what's happening | by lecia parks langston,  economist

Is Utah's Employment Grass Greening Up?

A quick look at "green job" projections

With the results of the Department of Workforce Services' first attempt at studying Utah’s “green” jobs firmly in hand (see the article on page 12), we took the next logical step. We’ve developed green job projections. This process entailed combining our green jobs research with our long-term occupational projections for 2008-2018. Yes, I know it is 2011! But don’t think these projections are meaningless. Occupational projections are produced on a two year cycle after the U.S. projections are complete. It’s a very time-consuming process, and we’re just gearing up to do the next set. Plus, I’ve been in the occupational-projection business a long time—the trends change very, very slowly. So, here’s what we expect in the next several years.

More Openings

Green jobs should grow at an annual rate of approximately 2 percent a year—about the same expansion rate as total employment. When we add the need for replacements to growth in green jobs, Utah can expect an average of 1,100 openings per year for green-related jobs—about half from growth; half from replacement needs. Seems like a lot? Well, keep in mind that we expect a total annual average of 64,000 Utah openings per year during the projection period. On the other hand, green jobs are expected to comprise more than 3 percent of total openings compared to less than 2 percent of current employment.

Blue and White are Green

Which major occupational groups should create the most green-job openings? Well, in this case green-collar openings are primarily blue-collar openings. Half of all green-openings should occur in just four blue-collar occupational categories—production (manufacturing), construction/mining, installation/maintenance /repair, and transportation/material moving. Projections indicate another quarter of these new openings will occur in occupa-tional groups that typically require a bachelor’s degree or higher (white collar)—management, life/physical/social sciences, and architecture/engineering.

Down to the Individual

Which individual occupations should provide the most green-related openings? Again, the green answer seems more blue-collar than white- or pink-collar. In addition, two “residual” or “all other” occupational categories show up high on the list. Why? Because many green professions are emerging occupations, they don’t yet have their own classification in the occupational coding structure. Often these emerging occupations must be categorized in the “all other” groups. (Fortunately, the latest revision of the Standard Occupational Classification system includes many “new” green occupation classifications, so more detailed data should be forthcoming.) Interestingly, both retail salespersons and heavy truck drivers made the list.