A publication of the Indiana Business Research Center at IU's Kelley School of Business
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How Green Is Indiana?

Many economists, workforce analysts and policymakers across the nation assert that the burgeoning green economy may provide new business and employment opportunities.1 Mitigating climate change, achieving health benefits from preventing pollution, reducing dependence on foreign oil and exploring new business opportunities and job creation potential are all reasons for studying the green sector.

However, traditional information sources and databases on industries and occupations are currently inadequate to accurately measure the number of green jobs in the economy. This article highlights the results of the first survey of Indiana employers to quantify the number of green jobs in Indiana. It focuses on the number and broad activities of current green jobs in Indiana and serves as a baseline to track future green industry growth.

What Is the Indiana Green Jobs Survey?

In the second quarter of 2010, the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and the Indiana Business Research Center conducted the Indiana Green Jobs Survey. The survey involved a sample of 13,520 firms, more than half of which responded. Survey respondents represented a broad spectrum of private as well as public sector industries.

This research was conducted as part of the Driving Change Project, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration.2

Defining Green Jobs

The survey asked employers about the green jobs at their locations. The following definitions of “green” helped respondents determine whether a job was green or not:

  • Green Economy: Industries providing products or services related to renewable energy, increased energy efficiency, clean transportation and fuels, agriculture and natural resource conservation, and pollution prevention or environmental cleanup.

  • Green Jobs: Primary occupations engaged in generating a firm's green-related products or services, as well as other support jobs created by the firm's green-related revenue.

  • Green-Related Industry: An industry likely to contain firms that produce parts, products or services related to the green economy. Industries and firms were classified as green-related based on their primary product or service, not based on whether they were taking internal steps to use less energy or be more environmentally responsible.

  • Green-Related Occupations: Green-related industries frequently use job titles that are green or green-related. These green-related occupations have a variety of educational and skill levels, such as:
    • Scientists and engineers involved in energy research
    • Skilled production workers in manufacturing
    • Critical occupations at small, start-up firms, such as technical sales staff
    • Construction laborers and skilled trade workers used in LEED construction projects

Survey Results

Indiana currently has an estimated 46,879 direct green jobs. Table 1 shows the distribution of those jobs among five core green activity areas. Green jobs accounted for 1.7 percent of total employment in Indiana.

Table 1: Summary of Indiana Direct Green Jobs by Core Area

Core Area Direct Green Jobs Percentage of All Direct Green Jobs
Total Direct Green Jobs 46,879 100.0%
Increasing Energy Efficiency 15,715 33.5%
Agriculture and Natural Resource Conservation 10,334 22.0%
Pollution Prevention and Environmental Cleanup 9,003 19.2%
Renewable Energy Production 4,152 8.9%
Clean Transportation and Fuels 2,234 4.8%
Green Jobs Not Assigned to a Core Area 5,442 11.6%

Source: IBRC, using Indiana Green Jobs Survey data

Most of the information collected in the survey reflects only “direct” green jobs: those employees whose primary function is the production of green-related products or services for a particular firm. The presence of direct green business activities, however, may also generate additional jobs to support those direct green activities. These support jobs range from accounting staff to human resources staff to clerical staff. For example, a manufacturing firm may have 20 machinists building wind turbine blades, as well as one accountant and two clerical positions that support the wind turbine business. Without the wind turbine blade revenue, the three support jobs would not exist.

Thus, in addition to collecting data on the number of direct green jobs, the survey asked firms to quantify the number of jobs that support their green business activities. The survey results show that an additional 17,437 jobs support green business activities in Indiana.

Green Jobs by Core Green Area

Core areas illustrate the primary green business activities that generate jobs in the Indiana economy. Figure 1 presents the distribution of green jobs in Indiana by core area according to the survey results.

Figure 1: Distribution of Indiana Direct Green Jobs by Core Area

Figure 1: Distribution of Indiana Direct Green Jobs by Core Area

Source: IBRC, using Indiana Green Jobs Survey data

Considering the importance of the auto industry in Indiana, the clean transportation and fuels core area accounts for a surprisingly small share of the state's green jobs, less than 5 percent of the total. However, bear in mind that Indiana produces many auto parts that may or may not be a component of a green vehicle.

In contrast, increasing energy efficiency (most closely associated with the construction industry) accounted for 33.5 percent of green jobs in Indiana. The next largest area was agriculture and natural resource conservation, with 22 percent of the state's green jobs.

Indiana's green jobs span across a wide range of industries. Construction, services and trade accounted for well over 60 percent of green jobs. Of the 17 industries presented in Table 2, only six industries were engaged in manufacturing and accounted for a mere 6,660 of the 40,160 jobs detailed in the table.

Table 2: Top Indiana Industries Generating Direct Green Jobs

NAICS Industry Green Jobs Total Jobs Green Jobs as a Percent of Industry Employment
238 Specialty Trade Contractors 10,411 76,681 13.6%
561 Administrative and Support Services 5,826 132,113 4.4%
541 Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services 5,322 94,278 5.6%
423 Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods 4,483 69,569 6.4%
924 Administration of Environmental Quality Programs 2,809 4,475 62.8%
325 Chemical Manufacturing 1,947 29,337 6.6%
236 Construction of Buildings 1,872 30,525 6.1%
336 Transportation Equipment Manufacturing 1,709 78,736 2.2%
332 Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing 1,350 45,696 3.0%
811 Repair and Maintenance 919 25,800 3.6%
111 Crop Production 781 5,950 13.1%
921 General Government Administration 704 86,073 0.8%
333 Machinery Manufacturing 687 36,143 1.9%
321 Wood Product Manufacturing 592 11,481 5.2%
326 Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing 374 31,210 1.2%
221 Utilities 295 17,081 1.7%
112 Animal Production 82 5,410 1.5%
999 All Other Combined Industries 6,716 449,615 1.5%

Source: IDWD, using QCEW second quarter 2009 data for total jobs; IBRC,using Indiana Green Jobs Survey data for green jobs

Green Jobs by Occupations

Table 3 lists the occupations in Indiana with the most green jobs, according to the survey results.
There does not appear to be a common theme among the more prominent green occupations in Indiana. Landscaping and groundskeeping workers reported the largest share of green-related jobs in Indiana, accounting for about more than 6 percent of Indiana’s green employment. There was a smattering of production occupations (manufacturing), construction jobs and transportation and material handling occupations.

Counterintuitively, occupations that are obviously green, such as environmental scientists and specialists and environmental engineers, command a smaller share of the occupation ledger at about 1 percent each. This may be explained by the fact that these positions are taken up by comparatively fewer, but more highly qualified, individuals.

Also surprisingly, agriculture-related jobs do not appear to be an important source of green jobs in Indiana. Agriculture-related occupations supplied about 4 percent of green jobs reported in the survey.

Table 3: Leading Indiana Direct Green Occupations

SOC Occupation Total Direct Green Jobs Percent of Total Direct Green Jobs
n/a Total, All Green Occupations 46,879 100.0%
37-3011 Landscaping and groundskeeping workers 2,990 6.4%
47-2111 Electricians 1,906 4.1%
41-4012 Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing, except technical and scientific products 1,629 3.5%
17-2051 Civil engineers 1,511 3.2%
47-2131 Insulation workers, floor, ceiling, and wall 1,501 3.2%
49-9021 Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers 1,375 2.9%
43-9061 Office clerks, general 1,307 2.8%
53-7062 Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand 1,269 2.7%
45-2092 Farmworkers and laborers, crop, nursery, and greenhouse 1,057 2.3%
37-2011 Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners 1,041 2.2%
51-1011 First-line supervisors/managers of production and operating workers 918 2.0%
17-2141 Mechanical engineers 873 1.9%
11-1021 General and operations managers 811 1.7%
51-2092 Team assemblers 630 1.3%
49-9042 Maintenance and repair workers, general 616 1.3%
47-1011 First-line supervisors/managers of construction trades and extraction workers 589 1.3%
47-2181 Roofers 570 1.2%
43-3031 Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks 568 1.2%
47-2031 Carpenters 548 1.2%
53-3032 Truck drivers, heavy and tractor-trailer 520 1.1%
17-2071 Electrical engineers 501 1.1%
11-9021 Construction managers 495 1.1%
19-2041 Environmental scientists and specialists, including health 474 1.0%
49-3023 Automotive service technicians and mechanics 473 1.0%
51-4081 Multiple machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic 469 1.0%
17-2081 Environmental engineers 457 1.0%
11-9141 Property, real estate, and community association managers 425 0.9%
11-3011 Administrative services managers 401 0.9%
45-2041 Graders and sorters, agricultural products 389 0.8%
41-4011 Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing, technical and scientific products 369 0.8%

Source: IBRC, using Indiana Green Jobs Survey data

Table 4 displays the distribution of green-related occupations by core area. Energy efficiency is the largest core green area in terms of direct jobs. The majority of occupations in the energy efficiency area are construction-related, with electricians and insulation workers leading the occupation list.

Agriculture and natural resource conservation is Indiana’s second largest core area for occupations. In keeping with Indiana’s many farms, nurseries and greenhouses, the state has a significant number of farm workers and material movers. The largest occupation in the core area is landscaping and groundskeeping workers. This core area represents almost 80 percent of all the direct green jobs for this occupation.

The dominance of Indiana’s automobile industry is not very evident from the green job titles in clean transportation and fuels, with only two production occupations making the top five occupations list in this core area. Relatively few engineers inhabit Indiana’s clean transportation and fuels core area, but one can speculate that as demand and production of fuel-efficient and alternative fuel vehicles continues to grow, the share of jobs involved with the research, engineering and production in this core area will likely increase.

Table 4: Top Five Occupations in Each Core Green Area

SOC Occupation Total Direct Green Jobs Direct Green Jobs in Core Area Share of Core Area Direct Green Jobs by Occupation
 Increasing Energy Efficiency   10,065  
47-2111 Electricians 1,906 1,885 98.9%
47-2131 Insulation workers, floor, ceiling, and wall 1,501 1,501 100.0%
49-9021 Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers 1,375 1,224 89.0%
17-2051 Civil engineers 1,511 1,197 79.2%
41-4012 Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing, except technical and scientific products 1,629 1,178 72.3%
Agricultural and Natural Resource Conservation   6,306  
37-3011 Landscaping and groundskeeping workers 2,990 2,377 79.5%
45-2092 Farmworkers and laborers, crop, nursery, and greenhouse 1,057 1,008 95.4%
53-7062 Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand 1,269 523 41.2%
43-9061 Office clerks, general 1,307 466 35.7%
11-9141 Property, real estate, and community association managers 425 418 98.4%
Pollution Prevention and Environmental Cleanup   5,870  
37-2011 Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners 1,041 952 91.5%
37-3011 Landscaping and groundskeeping workers 2,990 597 20.0%
53-7062 Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand 1,269 555 43.7%
11-1021 General and operations managers 811 446 55.0%
17-2081 Environmental engineers 457 427 93.4%
Renewable Energy Production   2,429  
51-8091 Chemical plant and system operators 280 280 100.0%
51-1011 First-line supervisors/managers of production and operating workers 918 248 27.0%
43-9061 Office clerks, general 1,307 247 18.9%
41-4011 Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing, technical and scientific products 369 200 54.2%
49-9042 Maintenance and repair workers, general 616 183 29.7%
Clean Transportation and Fuels   1,348  
51-4081 Multiple machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic 469 345 73.6%
53-3021 Bus drivers, transit and intercity 297 297 100.0%
49-3023 Automotive service technicians and mechanics 473 167 35.3%
17-2141 Mechanical engineers 873 140 16.0%
51-2092 Team assemblers 630 96 15.2%

Source: IBRC, using Indiana Green Jobs Survey data

Filling Vacancies

Figure 2 shows the percentage of employers that, having identified the occupation as a direct green job, expected recruitment difficulties in the future. With the exception of mechanical engineers and foresters, the occupations that employers anticipated difficulty in recruiting were those with low to medium levels of specialized skills and education.

Figure 2: Green Occupations Where Employers Anticipate Potential Recruiting Difficulties

Figure 2 : Green Occupations Where Employers Anticipate Potential Recruiting Difficulties

Source: IBRC, using Indiana Green Jobs Survey data

Unique Skills

Figure 3 shows the 10 occupations that more than 70 percent of responding employers identified as requiring unique green skills. This has implications for training programs, as individual green occupations will differ in their need for specialized training. This also has implications for incumbent workers who increasingly find themselves working on green projects, as well as potential new green workers hoping to transition into the green economy.

Figure 3: Occupations that Require Unique Skills for Green-Related Projects

Figure 3 : Occupations that Require Unique Skills for Green-Related Projects

Source: IBRC, using Indiana Green Jobs Survey data

Training

In an attempt to measure the future training needs of employers, the survey asked about the likely mix of training required for their green-related workforce. To keep the survey simple, employers indicated the proportions of these future green jobs requiring formal or informal-on-the-job training. Survey respondents expected that nearly 52 percent of their future green-related employee training would be conducted on the job, while only about 21 percent of respondents stated that their training needs would be formal. (Respondents were not required to answer the question or to ensure that the sum of their percentages equaled 100.)

Summary

The green jobs survey provides a glimpse into a phenomenon that, until now, has remained virtually unexamined in the state of Indiana. Green jobs in the Hoosier state currently comprise 1.7 percent of the total workforce. Manufacturing and construction have the greatest concentrations of green jobs in Indiana. These industries, as the experience of the Great Recession shows, are also more sensitive to economic cycles.

But as the green economy expands, Hoosiers may realize a variety of benefits. First, greener energy production will necessitate the manufacture of new equipment for electricity generation. An emphasis on sustainable energy sources would help reduce the state’s carbon footprint and improve air and water quality. Expanding green and sustainable energy production would also support national goals of meeting future energy needs while reducing reliance on foreign oil.

Major benefits may also accrue to Indiana’s workforce in the form of new and diverse employment opportunities. By moving the economy toward renewable and clean energy, Indiana can establish a more diverse mix of industries and be better positioned to capitalize on growing industries. Indiana’s long-term goal has been to increase the diversification of the state economy and invest in the jobs of the future. Existing Indiana companies can also gain by transforming their products, parts and services to supply the expanding green economy.

To read the full report, Indiana Green Jobs: Employment Prospects in the Green Economy, visit www.drivingworkforcechange.org/greenjobs.asp.

Notes

  1. The word "assert" was chosen with care as some of the claims made, and the hopes raised, about green jobs have recently been proven unfounded. The results of the green jobs agenda have some people questioning its value, as in Aaron Glantz, "Number of Green Jobs Fails to Live Up to Promises," New York Times, August 18, 2011, www.nytimes.com/2011/08/19/us/19bcgreen.html, and Jonah Goldberg, “America's 'Green' Quagmire,” Los Angeles Times, August 23, 2011, www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-goldberg-green-20110823,0,4353091.column.
  2. Visit www.drivingworkforcechange.org for more information about this consortium.

Timothy F. Slaper, Ph.D.
Director of Economic Analysis, Indiana Business Research Center, Indiana University Kelley School of Business