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Green Jobs in Oregon: Industries, Occupations, Training, Wages, and Projections
by Gail Krumenauer
Published Mar-6-2012

The Oregon Employment Department conducted the second statewide green jobs survey in all industries, occupations, and regions across the state between June and August 2011. We surveyed nearly 7,800 employers for information on employment, wages, and educational requirements associated with their green jobs.

In Oregon, we define a green job as one with essential job duties that provide a service or produce a product in any of these categories:

  • Increasing energy efficiency
  • Producing renewable energy
  • Preventing, reducing, or mitigating environmental degradation
  • Cleaning up and restoring the natural environment
  • Providing education, consulting, policy promotion, accreditation, or other services supporting the above categories

We estimate a total of 43,148 green jobs spread across 4,339 different employers in Oregon during 2010. Green jobs were found in all major industries and all broad occupational groups. Oregon's green jobs made up 3 percent of the state's workforce in 2010, which totaled 1,577,692 jobs in privately owned firms, state government, and local government combined. Green jobs also constituted 3 percent of the state's workforce in 2008.

The construction industry reported the largest number (9,912) and highest share (23%) of green jobs in Oregon (Graph 1). About one-fourth of all green jobs statewide were found in construction. This industry also reported the largest number of green jobs statewide in 2008. Four other industries accounted for at least 10 percent of all green jobs in 2010. Natural resources and mining reported 8,014 green jobs (19%), followed by 5,738 in state and local government (13%), 5,313 in manufacturing (12%), and 4,876 in professional and technical services (11%). Together these five industries accounted for more than three-fourths of all green jobs.

As with the industry numbers, most green jobs in 2010 were found in relatively few occupational groups. The top four occupational groups with green jobs made up more than half (55%) of the statewide total (Table 1). Construction and extraction occupations accounted for the largest number and share (6,839 or 16%) of all green jobs. The next largest occupational groups for green jobs include: farming, fishing, and forestry (5,857, 14%); life, physical, and social science (5,609, 13%); and installation, maintenance, and repair (5,254, 12%).

Although construction topped both the industry and occupational employment numbers in 2010, the number of green jobs in the construction and extraction occupational group sits well below the construction industry total. Employer survey responses indicate that roughly 31 percent of green jobs in the construction industry can be attributed to workers in installation, maintenance, and repair occupations. Two examples of green jobs in the installation, maintenance, and repair occupational group employed in the construction industry include some HVAC mechanics and installers and wind turbine service technicians.

Table 1
Green Jobs by Occupational Group, Oregon Statewide, 2010
Occupational Group Green Jobs Share of All Green Jobs
Construction and Extraction 6,839 16%
Farming, Fishing, and Forestry 5,857 14%
Life, Physical, and Social Science 5,609 13%
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair 5,254 12%
Production 3,989 9%
Transportation and Material Moving 3,732 9%
Architecture and Engineering 2,698 6%
Business and Financial Operations 2,582 6%
Management 1,791 4%
Protective Service 1,138 3%
Office and Administrative Support 958 2%
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance 954 2%
Education, Training, and Library 384 1%
Sales and Related 376 1%
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media 311 1%
Food Preparation and Serving Related 291 1%
Computer and Mathematical 188 less than 1%
Health Care Practitioners and Technical 119 less than 1%
Community and Social Service 54 less than 1%
Personal Care and Service 13 less than 1%
Legal 11 less than 1%
Total 43,148 100%
Graph 1
Green jobs and component industries relative to total employment Oregon 2010
Eleven Occupations With More Than 1,000 Green Jobs
Employers reported at least one green job in 185 different occupations statewide in 2010. However, green jobs were concentrated in a relatively small number of occupations, similar to the trend in industry and occupational groups. The 11 occupations with at least 1,000 green jobs in 2010 made up 45 percent of the statewide total (Table 2). Eleven occupations were also estimated to have at least 1,000 green jobs in 2008. Four occupations were identified with more than 1,000 green jobs in both surveys: carpenters; farmworkers and laborers; firefighters; and freight, stock, and material movers.

Table 2
Top Occupations in Oregon With Green Jobs, 2010
Occupational Title Green Jobs
Forest and Conservation Workers 2,786
Carpenters 2,653
Business Operations Specialists, All Other 2,251
Forest and Conservation Technicians 1,989
Farmworkers and Laborers, Crop, Nursery, and Greenhouse 1,853
Semiconductor Processors 1,574
Insulation Workers, Floor, Ceiling, and Wall 1,542
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration (HVAC) Mechanics and Installers 1,441
Firefighters 1,124
Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand 1,087
Architects, Except Landscape and Naval 1,007
Green Jobs Split Between No Degree and Postsecondary Education
The largest share of Oregon's green jobs (30%) required only related work experience and no degree to be competitive for positions in 2010 (Graph 2). In contrast, the second largest share of green jobs in the state (23%) required a bachelor's or advanced degree. More broadly, 44 percent of all green jobs either had no requirement or required no degree, while 39 percent of green jobs required some form of postsecondary education.

The split dynamic between green jobs that require no degree and those that require postsecondary education is associated with the concentrations of green jobs by industry and occupations in Oregon. Two of the top five green-job industries tend towards related work experience as the competitive requirement for job candidates, while two others favored higher education. Roughly one-half of all green jobs in construction and natural resources and mining require related work experience. Meanwhile, about three-fourths of professional and technical services green jobs require a bachelor's or advanced degree. In state and local government, more than one-half of all green jobs reported have baccalaureate or advanced degree requirements. Manufacturing employers reported somewhat more mixed educational requirements.

Graph 2
Oregon jobs by competitive education requirement Oregon 2010
Wages Slightly Higher in Green Jobs
We estimate the average hourly wage for all green jobs in Oregon at $23.07 in 2010. By comparison, all non-federal jobs in the state paid an average hourly wage of $19.83.

The statewide median wage in 2010 was $16.31 per hour, meaning half of all jobs statewide earned above this high-wage threshold. Nearly three-fourths (72%) of all green jobs paid more than $15.00 per hour, and 53 percent paid at least $20.00. Therefore green jobs were slightly more likely to fall into the high-wage category than non-green jobs.

Wages in green jobs, as with all jobs, differ by occupation. Generally, green jobs that require postsecondary education pay higher wages (Graph 3). About four-fifths of all green jobs with a competitive education requirement of a bachelor's or advanced degree paid $25.00 per hour or more, along with roughly two-fifths of all green jobs that require some college, an associate degree, or a vocational certificate. By comparison, one-fifth of green jobs requiring related work experience and no degree paid at least $25.00 per hour, and 3 percent of green jobs with no educational requirement earned an hourly wage at or above $25.00.

Graph 3
Green jobs requiring higher education pay higher wages
Wind Turbine Service Technicians and Solar Photovoltaic (Panel) Installers
In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics designated wind turbine service technicians and solar panel installers as stand-alone occupations for the first time. All jobs in these two occupations can be considered green. We estimate a total of 976 wind turbine service technicians and 74 solar panel installers in Oregon during 2010. In addition, roughly the same number of solar panel workers were classified as construction laborers and installation, maintenance, and repair workers instead, due to a mix of solar PV and other, non-solar job responsibilities.

Most jobs in the wind turbine service technician and solar panel installer occupations required education beyond high school. Eighty-one percent of wind service turbine technician jobs reported and 64 percent of solar panel installers required some level of education beyond high school to be competitive for positions. Wind turbine service technicians earned an average hourly wage of $26.21 in 2010, above the average of $23.07 for all green jobs. The average for solar panel installers was $17.63.

Most Green Jobs Found in the Portland Area and the Willamette Valley
The Portland area - Clackamas, Columbia, Multnomah, Washington, and Yamhill counties - had the largest share (41%) of all green jobs in 2010. Willamette Valley employers reported the second highest share of green jobs (17%), which included those in Benton, Lane, Linn, Marion, and Polk counties. Southern Oregon accounted for 11 percent of the state's green jobs. Smaller shares of green jobs were found in the broad Central Oregon and Columbia Gorge region (9%), along the Oregon Coast (6%), and across the combined Eastern Oregon counties (2%).

The Grass Isn't Greener: 2012 Projections
We asked employers to project the number of green jobs they expected at their firms in 2012. Overall, Oregon employers anticipate a net loss of 598 green jobs (-1%) by 2012. Anticipated losses range from a drop of 3 percent (-253 jobs) in natural resources and mining to a reduction of 12 percent (-602 jobs) in professional and technical services. Three industries expect to employ more workers in green jobs during 2012: manufacturing; administrative and waste services; and other services. These industries expect a combined gain of 966 green jobs over the two-year period. Three other industries expect no change in green jobs from 2010 to 2012: management of companies and enterprises; leisure and hospitality; and information.

By occupational group, employers anticipate the largest reductions between 2010 and 2012 (Graph 4) in farming, fishing, and forestry (-530 green jobs); life, physical, and social science (-528); and installation maintenance and repair (-504). The biggest gains in green jobs are expected in management (482), production (259), building and grounds cleaning and maintenance (211), and protective service occupations (210).

For more information on green jobs in Oregon, visit our Green Info page at www.QualityInfo.org/Green.

Graph 4
Employers' green jobs priojections for selected occupational groups Oregon 10-12