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Pennsylvania offers a window into the future of green jobs

Green jobs in renewable energy or related fields represent a significant opportunity to provide job growth in states that haven't benefited as much from America's latest economic boom, according to a recent report.

Research from the employment analysis organization Emsi Burning Glass and the nonprofit news organization Working Nation analyzed the number of green jobs in Pennsylvania, a state whose unemployment rate of 5.4% is well above the national average and found that green jobs, could boost quality employment in the state.

According to the data, the number of people working in green jobs equals roughly 10% of the total number of people working in the energy sector in Pennsylvania -- going by numbers from 2020.

With nearly 30,000 workers in jobs that the two organizations categorize as "green", sustainability businesses are only just beginning to penetrate Pennsylvania's workforce -- but those job opportunities are growing at a higher clip.

Their numbers are expected to increase dramatically thanks to $1.2 trillion in federal spending on infrastructure expected throughout the next two years at least. In fact, the number of green jobs in Pennsylvania is expected to grow by 6.4% over the next five years, according to the report.

"Pennsylvania is a window on the future," says Paula DiPerna, an author and strategic environmental policy advisor collaborating on the project. "Pennsylvania is trying to move towards a new definition of industrial growth in terms of transitioning from being dependent on an economy that flows from the use of fossil fuels to one that flows from alternatives."

Over the coming months and years, WorkingNation and Emsi Burning Glass will be releasing reports on the prospects for green growth in each state in the U.S.

In Pennsylvania, there were 4,544 openings for employees who could demonstrate some kind of "green" skill, like carbon accounting or energy monitoring.

The top fields include energy conservation and efficiency, renewable energy development -- and specialized skills like energy technicians and researchers. Renewable energy industry knowledge and PV systems integration experience or training can boost annual salaries by $2,500, according to the report.

Firms are also looking for solar energy sales specialists, according to the report.

WorkingNation's data shows that there are approximately 1.5 million workers in Pennsylvania who could be trained to meet the demand. "These workers come from a variety of different occupations and educational backgrounds, and re-skilling them could build the pipeline of green workers faster than relying on new postsecondary graduates alone," the authors of the WorkingNation report wrote. "However, doing so will require a mix of training program formats that support the reskilling and redeployment of these workers."


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