Despite state's recovering economy, Michigan's 'green' jobs dropped
Despite overall job growth in Michigan in 2011, there were fewer "green" jobs in the state, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported released Tuesday.
The total number of green jobs in Michigan dropped from 85,228 in 2010 to 82,644 in 2011.
Overall, the number of U.S. green jobs in 2011 was 3,401,279, an increase of 157,746 from the previous year. Green jobs accounted for 2.6 percent of all jobs in the United States in 2011. The BLS report considers jobs such as bus drivers and trash pickup to be "green" jobs.
Overall, Michigan saw its total jobs increase from 3.77 million in 2010 to 3.85 million in 2011.
James Hohman, a fiscal policy analyst with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, said the state offers some green companies tax incentives and credits and has a renewable energy standard.
"We are doing a lot to promote green energy," Hohman said. "But jobs in the green industries went down."
Michigan has seen a number of notable "green" energy company failures in recent years. In fact, half of the nation's largest green energy company failures had Michigan operations. One of the most notable failures is A123 Systems, which had an electric car battery plant in Livonia. The company was routinely propped up by generous subsidies and promoted heavily by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm and President Obama, but A123 filed for bankruptcy late last year.
Nonetheless, Hugh McDiarmid, spokesman for the Michigan Environmental Council, said more needs to be done to promote the state's green energy industry.
"82,000 jobs in Michigan is a significant number," he said. "(It is) heartening to see the number of green jobs increased nationally. Michigan must continue working to leverage its manufacturing know-how and infrastructure to be a bigger player in this growing sector of the economy."
The biggest growth in the green economy was the construction field. Overall in the U.S., there was a 26.4 percent increase in green construction jobs from 2010 to 2011, which includes constructing the buildings for green companies as well as putting up siding on houses.
The BLS "green" jobs survey may be discontinued due to $12 million in “sequester” budget cuts, according to a recent story at RealClearMarkets.com.