Does environmental protection harm the economy and destroy jobs or facilitate economic growth and create jobs?
The relationship between environmental protection, the economy, and jobs has been an issue of harsh contention for decades. Does environmental protection harm the economy and destroy jobs or facilitate economic growth and create jobs? We address this issue by summarizing the results of the Jobs and the Environment Initiative, research funded by nonprofit foundations to quantify the relationship between environmental protection, the economy, and jobs. We estimate the size of the U.S. environmental industry and the numbers of environment-related jobs (by detailed industry and specific occupation) at the national level and in the states of Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin. This is the first time that such comprehensive, detailed estimates have been developed.
Our major finding is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, environmental protection, economic growth, and jobs creation are complementary and compatible: Investments in environmental protection create jobs, not destroy them.
Second, environment protection has grown rapidly to become a major sales generating, job creating industry: $320 billion per year sales and 5.1 million jobs created in 2004.
Third, most of the 5 million jobs created are standard jobs for accountants, engineers, computer analysts, clerks, factory workers, etc., and the classic environmental job (environmental engineer, ecologist, etc.) constitutes only a small portion of the jobs created. Most of the persons employed in the jobs created may not even realize that they owe their livelihood to protecting the environment.
Fourth, at the state level, the relationship between environmental policies and economic/job growth is positive, not negative. States can and do have strong economies and simultaneously protect the environment.
Finally, environmental protection spending has had greater than proportionate benefit in the manufacturing sector, and environmental jobs are concentrated in manufacturing and professional, information, scientific, and technical services. They are thus disproportionately the types of jobs all states seek to attract.