Due to the recent growth of "green jobs", many have made attempts to quantify the number of professionals or job opportunities in the sustainability sector.
In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the number of the green jobs for the first time in history this year, counting 3.1 million "green goods and service jobs" (GGS jobs) in 2010.
However, the BLS received criticism for over-counting the number of green jobs, including professions such as bus drivers for "clean fuel" municipal buses. In contrast, the Brookings Institute counted about 2.7 million clean energy jobs in 2010.
Many sites that post jobs or collect employment information have also attempted to make sense of their green jobs data. For instance, LinkedIn reported that the "Renewables and Environment" profession category, which contains green jobs, grew the most of any other category between 2007 and 2011, at 49.2%.
Similarly, the Green Job Bank, a green job search engine that crawls the web daily to post green jobs from many web sources, posted 36,500 green jobs in Q1 of 2012. This is up about 55% from 16,300 in Q1 of 2011 - showing significant green jobs growth in early 2012.
On May 7, 2012, Forbes reported yet another green jobs metric - the number of green jobs on Simply Hired, a popular job search engine that aggregates postings from across the web.
According to the jobs site, there are currently 45,000 green job postings. The following were the top 10 cities with the highest number of green jobs:
How Many Green Jobs Are There, Really?
While these numbers may leave us wondering, "How many green jobs are there, really?", I think it's generally positive that the U.S. government, nonprofit institutions, and even large professional sites, like LinkedIn and Simply Hired, are starting to report their data on green jobs. This hopefully means that the green economy is a staying trend, and one that's worth paying attention to.
Additionally, it must be considered that the growth of "green jobs" is not just the number of new positions being added, but also the number of traditional, "non-green" jobs that will gain new sustainable components as governments and companies respond to climate change.
In fact, the reason "green" and "sustainability" are considered so crucial is because these concepts literally affect everything and everyone. Energy supply, water quality, shrinking biodiversity, limited resources, increasing gas prices, and extreme weather will not just affect the one "green sector" of the economy - it will affect businesses, people, and environments around the globe.
In short, just as "green" cannot be limited to one sector or one region, green jobs cannot be narrowed to one sector of employment.
So, in my opinion, while the true quantity of green jobs can perhaps never truly be counted, the fact that sustainability has such an all-encompassing and far-reaching effect on the world makes it worth attempting to tally our progress in the green arena, no matter the metric.