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Duke study pinpoints potential 'green collar' job growth in US

DURHAM, N.C. - During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama proposed an economic plan that would create 5 million jobs in environmental industries. These so-called "green collar" jobs do, in fact, present the next frontier for U.S. manufacturing, says a new report from Duke University.

Highlighting the direct linkages between low-carbon technologies and U.S. jobs, Duke researchers say U.S. manufacturing is poised to grow in a low-carbon economy. Their report, "Manufacturing Climate Solutions," provides a detailed look at the manufacturing jobs that already exist and would be created when the U.S. takes action to limit global-warming pollution. A copy of the study is available at

"Until now, there was no tangible evidence of what the jobs are, how they are created and what it means for U.S. workers. We are providing that here," said Gary Gereffi, a Duke professor of sociology and lead author of the report. "We don't guess where the jobs are; we name them. Our report uses value chains to show that clean technology jobs are also real economy jobs."

Led by Gereffi, researchers at Duke's Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness (CGGC) assess five carbon-reducing technologies with potential for future green job creation: LED lighting, high-performance windows, auxiliary power units for long-haul trucks, concentrating solar power, and Super Soil Systems (a new method for treating hog wastes).

They conclude that hidden economic opportunities exist within the supply chains that provide parts and labor for these five industries. The report includes a snapshot of the opportunities for U.S. manufacturing jobs, with a detailed breakdown of the supply chains and maps highlighting the location of companies positioned to support green jobs. States that stand to benefit most from jobs in these sectors include Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California.

"Meeting the challenge of climate change will ramp up the supply chains that wind their way through the heart of American manufacturing," said Jackie Roberts, director of sustainable technology at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), one of the report's sponsors. "It's concrete evidence of the link between U.S. jobs and climate solutions."

"While some seek to pit the environment against economic growth, we see economic opportunity in the solutions to the climate crisis," added Bob Baugh, executive director of the AFL-CIO Industrial Union Council, another one of the report's sponsors. "But, to succeed it means making certain that, from production to construction, these green investments are made in the U.S. That is the best way to assure that their positive ripple effects are felt throughout the entire economy."

"This report shows that each climate solution creates significant positive ripple effects throughout the economy in the labor and materials needed to supply low carbon technologies and products," said Abraham Breehey, director of legislative affairs for the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, also a report co-sponsor. "It demonstrates the real economic opportunity in the solutions to the climate crisis."


Contact: Marcy Lowe
Duke University

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