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Green jobs' growth potential is limited, economist cautions

A Ethanol production and wind-turbine manufacturing have been two of the biggest sources of new green jobs in Iowa, but the state's biggest growth opportunity may be in research and development, an economist said. David Swenson, an economic development specialist at Iowa State University, said that ethanol production is leveling off and that there is stiff competition among states for manufacturing of wind turbine parts.

A Ethanol production and wind-turbine manufacturing have been two of the biggest sources of new green jobs in Iowa, but the state's biggest growth opportunity may be in research and development, an economist said.

David Swenson, an economic development specialist at Iowa State University, said that ethanol production is leveling off and that there is stiff competition among states for manufacturing of wind turbine parts. Meanwhile, wind farms make little dent in employment because they require relatively few people for maintenance.

Iowa had 1,308 jobs in ethanol production in 2008, up from 141 in 2003, according to a study coordinated by Iowa Workforce Development. The turbine manufacturing sector grew from 136 in 2003 to 1,101 in 2008. By comparison, 82 people were listed as working in alternative power generation, including wind, in 2008. That's even though the state ranked No. 2 in its wind-generation capacity, which grew nearly six-fold from 2003 to 2008.

"It's important to think in terms of green jobs, but green jobs are not a big part, nor do they promise to be a big part, of the Iowa economy," Swenson said. "We need to... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A Ethanol production and wind-turbine manufacturing have been two of the biggest sources of new green jobs in Iowa, but the state's biggest growth opportunity may be in research and development, an economist said.

David Swenson, an economic development specialist at Iowa State University, said that ethanol production is leveling off and that there is stiff competition among states for manufacturing of wind turbine parts. Meanwhile, wind farms make little dent in employment because they require relatively few people for maintenance.

Iowa had 1,308 jobs in ethanol production in 2008, up from 141 in 2003, according to a study coordinated by Iowa Workforce Development. The turbine manufacturing sector grew from 136 in 2003 to 1,101 in 2008. By comparison, 82 people were listed as working in alternative power generation, including wind, in 2008. That's even though the state ranked No. 2 in its wind-generation capacity, which grew nearly six-fold from 2003 to 2008.

"It's important to think in terms of green jobs, but green jobs are not a big part, nor do they promise to be a big part, of the Iowa economy," Swenson said. "We need to keep our wits about us as regards to the prospects."

Research and development opportunities are starting at the universities, fueled by federal initiatives, and will spin out into the private sector later, Swenson said. Iowa State announced Friday that two teams of researchers had been awarded $8 million in federal economic stimulus money to develop advanced biofuels.

Manufacturers of wind equipment that are now in operation have committed to employ 2,500 to 3,000 Iowans. But employment has lagged because of the slow economy, said Jeff Rossate, administrator of the Iowa Department of Economic Development's business development division.

The state has additional opportunities for job growth in supplying parts for turbine manufacturers, he said. Those jobs wouldn't necessarily be at new plants. They could be located at existing manufacturers who are trying to diversify products, he said.

The study classified 8,659 jobs statewide as green jobs in 2008, out of total state employment of 1.5 million. That green-job total included 2,346 jobs at government agencies, such as the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and 572 nuclear power jobs.

Gov. Chet Culver used the analysis to tell state legislators this week that Iowa had 8,000 "new, green" jobs.

The 2008 total compares with 5,401 green jobs tabulated in 2006, but the difference between the two years is misleading. Some of the sectors showed increases or decreases because of new employment categories created by federal officials or changes in how jobs were reported by employers or were counted by state officials.

In 2007, for example, 1,068 jobs were listed in two categories of research and development, according to the study. But the analysis showed no research and development positions in 2006 or earlier years. Those jobs did not suddenly appear in 2007. Rather, the difference between 2006 and 2007 was creating categories for research employment, one for biotechnology jobs and the other for nonbiotech research, said Deb Ostrem, manager of Iowa Workforce Development's employment statistics bureau.

She said there was no way to know how many of those jobs counted in 2007 existed earlier.

State officials cannot identify individual companies included in the job categories, but the biotechnology research category includes agricultural biotechnology, an area where Pioneer Hi-Bred of Johnston is a major player.

The study's figures for employment in wind generation also are misleading. The report showed 220 such jobs in 2004, compared with 38 in 2006. Again, the difference was a change in how jobs were categorized.

There is no national definition of green jobs. But the interagency group led by Ostrem that did the study settled on a definition that included jobs in renewable energy, green building construction and retrofitting, sustainable agriculture and conservation, and energy efficiency.


Source: http://www.desmoinesregiste...

JAN 16 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/24173-green-jobs-growth-potential-is-limited-economist-cautions
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