Wednesday, January 12, 2011

BLS to Survey for Green Jobs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is planning to conduct two separate surveys of green jobs nationwide. One survey will be related to the production of green products, and the other on the use of green practices.

In the first survey, the BLS will ask businesses within a predetermined set of industries what percent of their total revenue is derived from the production of green products (such as solar panels). This value will be used as a proxy for the percentage of the firm's employees who have green jobs. In other words, if 20 percent of a company's revenue is from green products, then the BLS will assume that 20 percent of the company's jobs are green jobs.

In a separate survey, a sample of businesses from all industries will be asked if they have any green practices, such as using electric vehicles to transport goods. If a firm does use green practices, the BLS will ask for information about the individual job(s) that are working directly with the “green practice”.

The results from both surveys will be combined to estimate the total number of green jobs across the country. Information about the wages paid to green jobs will be derived from other data sources.

Completion of the two national surveys will not only provide a comprehensive picture of how green jobs are affecting the workforce, they will allow comparisons between states and regions for the first time. Until now, each state has developed its own definition of a green job, and the definition varies in each case.

Although the national data will be comparable across the country, it is unclear if the states will modify their definitions of a green job to match the national definition. As a result, conflicting concepts and counts of green jobs will likely exist for some time.

More information about the BLS survey is available in the full version of this article, written by our Green Jobs Economist, Charlie Johnson (503-947-1210 or You can also check out the BLS's green website at

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