In a new, first-ever analysis, the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) issued a report showing that there were 3.1 million "green" jobs in the United States in 2010, or 2.4 percent of the nation’s overall employment. Green Goods and Services jobs, the BLS indicates, "are found in businesses that produce goods and provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources."
The agency compiled its data by targeting 333 industries, while observing five broad classifications of production and services:
- Energy from renewable sources
- Energy-efficient equipment, appliances, buildings or vehicles, or items that improve their efficiency or improve the efficiency of energy distribution
- Pollution reduction, recycling, and reuse
- Organic agriculture and sustainable forestry
- Government administration, education, training, and advocacy
Critics note that this broad definition could ignite some controversy, as it likely includes the production of energy-efficient batteries, appliances, trash collectors, municipal bus drivers, and presumably, workers who are tasked with cleaning up around coal mines and oil rigs. The agency’s green-jobs project even conceded that "there is no widely accepted definition" of an environmentally-conscious job.
A nuclear power plant is considered green because it generates energy without emitting harmful greenhouse gases, affirmed Rick Clayton, head of the BLS’ Division of Administrative Statistics and Labor Turnover.
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