Green jobs surging in Minnesota, study reports

At a time when pink slips are sending workers packing from many Minnesota industries, those who are going green are creating jobs at promising rates, according to a groundbreaking new study by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

While overall jobs in Minnesota grew by 1.9 percent between 1998 and 2007, jobs related to the clean energy economy grew by 11.9 percent, Pew reported. (PDF)

To be sure, it is a fledgling sector of the economy, employing just shy of 20,000 Minnesotans in 2007 compared with a total state workforce of more than 3 million.

Still, the growth during tough times is notable.

WindLogics of St. Paul is one company Pew cited in its examples of the players in the emerging clean-energy economy. It provides feasibility and consulting services for wind farm development and operation.

In 2006, the company had 35 employees. Today it has 80, many of them working in high-quality professional jobs such as a meteorologist, computing specialist and software developer, said Laurie Mainquist, WindLogics’ marketing manager.

Another Minnesota example in the Pew report is Lumificient Corp. of Maple Grove, a company created in 2000 using energy-efficient LED technology to illuminate signs for businesses.

Last year, Lumificient posted revenues of $4.6 million, up 125 percent from the year before, said the company’s division president Carey Burkett. This year’s first quarter was “a little off” that pace, he said. Still, it registered 15 percent above the same period in 2008, a performance other industries could only envy in this tough economy.

One reason for the growth is that the company has responded to new demand for energy efficiency by expanding its LED technology into lighting for commercial and residential buildings as well as for displays such as the lighted choices on the coffee machines at your neighborhood gas station, Burkett said.

Lumificient’s 19 employees include engineers and production assembly workers as well as a sales and office staff, he said.

The Pew researchers reported (PDF) that Minnesota ranked 11th in the nation in green jobs in 2007 and 13th in green patents issued between 1998 and 2008. The state also was 19th in green businesses and 23rd in green job growth and venture capital.

California led the nation in most of those categories. The Dakotas ranked near the bottom in raw counts of green businesses and patents, but their green job rates were growing robustly too.

Growth around the country
Nationwide, jobs in the emerging clean energy economy grew nearly 2.5 times faster than overall jobs between 1998 and 2007, the Pew report said. In 2008, investors directed $5.9 billion into American businesses in the clean energy economy, a 48 percent increase over 2007.

That growth came “despite a lack of sustained government support,” Pew said in an apparent reference to the Bush administration’s tepid support for alternative energy projects and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Now, under a new administration, “the clean energy economy is poised for explosive growth,” said Lori Grange, interim deputy director of the Pew Center on the States.

In order to break new ground for the research, Pew had to define the clean energy economy. It looked at jobs, businesses and investments geared toward clean energy production and increased energy efficiency while also conserving natural resources such as water and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, waste and pollution.

One of the key findings was that “the emerging clean energy economy is creating well-paying jobs in every state for people of all skill levels and educational backgrounds.” Their ranks included engineers, plumbers, construction workers, machine setters, teachers and many others with annual incomes ranging from $21,000 to $111,000.

Other Minnesota-related highlights in the report include:

• Minnesota ranks fourth among states in wind energy production, driven in part by a law requiring that electric utilities get 25 percent of their energy from renewable resources by 2020.

• The state attracted nearly $50 million in clean technology venture capital between 2006 and 2008.

• Minnesota had 1,206 companies in the green sector in 2007.

“Minnesota has a large and growing piece of America’s clean energy economy,” the report said.

Sharon Schmickle writes about national and foreign affairs and science. She can be reached at sschmickle [at] minnpost [dot] com.

Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by david granneman on 06/11/2009 - 02:35 pm.

    hello all
    two stories in the news recently.

    160 green jobs at the windmill factory in pipestone will be eliminated with more cuts possible in the furture.

    2000 black jobs will be created in minnesota to build the pipeline to bring canadian oil to the port of superior wisconsin – these will be high paying jobs well into the future.

    GLOBAL WARMING IS A HOAX PERPETUATED BY PEOPLE TRYING TO DESTROY OUR PROSPERITY AND WAY OF LIFE

  2. Submitted by Lance Groth on 06/11/2009 - 06:50 pm.

    Regarding the job cuts at the Suzlon wind turbine-blade factory in Pipestone, it has more to do with local conditions in Pipestone than anything else. There were not enough local workers to staff the plant, nor rental housing in the area, so the company had to bus in workers from Sioux Falls and Worthington at a cost of $50,000 per month. Given the economic downturn, one can understand wanting to cut that kind of business expense in favor of other locations that can support larger factories. Pipestone is a long way from anywhere and has only 4000 residents. They have always struggled to attract employers. I know, I grew up there. Unfortunately, they suffered a double-whammy this year with the closure of the Bayliner Boats factory too. But we wouldn’t want facts to get in the way of insinuations, would we?

    As for global warming – first of all, I assume you mean *anthropogenic* warming. Global warming itself is certainly real, whatever you think the cause may be. The glaciers and ice caps are melting, and it’s not because the world is getting cooler. Just look at before and after pictures of glaciers and the arctic from, say, 100 years ago vs. today. If you still say there is no warming, well, you’re nuts.

    As to whether the warming is anthropogenic, 97% of climatologists worldwide who are active in climate research agree that human activity plays a role in observed warming:

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/01/19/eco.globalwarmingsurvey/index.html

    If you think all climatologists all around the planet are engaged in a hoax to destroy your quality of life, well, you’re nuts.

    Intelligent people keep their eyes and minds open, and deal with objective reality as it presents itself. People who deny objective reality are delusional.

    Finally, the topic of the article was the growth in green jobs, not job loss in Pipestone or hiring of pipeline workers. Anyone ought to be pleased to see a business sector showing rapid growth even in the face of the most adverse economic conditions in the last 80 years; even folks who elevate economic concerns above ecological sustainability. And as to that, it’s about time to consider the economic consequences of an unhinged global climate. If you think things are bad now, just keep pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere – you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

  3. Submitted by david granneman on 06/11/2009 - 11:24 pm.

    hello lance
    you are right when you say we ain’t seen nothing is quit correct as we ain’t seen any global warming yet.
    to read the full senate report go to

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=2674e64f-802a-23ad-490b-bd9faf4dcdb7

    U. S. Senate Minority Report:

    More Than 700 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims

    Scientists Continue to Debunk “Consensus” in 2008 & 2009

    Update: March 17, 2009: 59 Scientists Joint Senate Report

    Update: January 28, 2009: James Hansen’s Former NASA Supervisor Declares Himself a Skeptic
    Update: December 22, 2008: More Prominent Scientists Join Senate Report

    (Updates Previous Report: “More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims” released on Decmeber 11, 2008)

    INTRODUCTION:

    Over 700 dissenting scientists (updates previous 650 report) from around the globe challenged man-made global warming claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former Vice President Al Gore. This new 2009 255-page U.S. Senate Minority Report — updated from 2007’s groundbreaking report of over 400 scientists who voiced skepticism about the so-called global warming “consensus” — features the skeptical voices of over 700 prominent international scientists, including many current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the UN IPCC. This updated report includes an additional 300 (and growing) scientists and climate researchers since the initial release in December 2007. The over 700 dissenting scientists are more than 13 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media-hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.

  4. Submitted by david granneman on 06/11/2009 - 11:53 pm.

    hello all
    more global warming truth
    http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=64734

    HEAT OF THE MOMENT
    31,000 scientists reject ‘global warming’ agenda ‘Mr. Gore’s movie has claims no informed expert endorses’

    Posted: May 19, 2008
    8:51 pm Eastern

    More than 31,000 scientists across the U.S. – including more than 9,000 Ph.D.s in fields such as atmospheric science, climatology, Earth science, environment and dozens of other specialties – have signed a petition rejecting “global warming,” the assumption that the human production of greenhouse gases is damaging Earth’s climate.

    “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate,” the petition states. “Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”

    The Petition Project actually was launched nearly 10 years ago, when the first few thousand signatures were assembled. Then, between 1999 and 2007, the list of signatures grew gradually without any special effort or campaign.

    http://www.petitionproject.org/
    one of the signers of the petition is wcco weatherman – Mike Fairbourne

    GLOBAL WARMING IS A HOAX PERPETUATED BY PEOPLE TRYING TO DESTROY OUR PROSPERITY AND WAY OF LIFE

  5. Submitted by david granneman on 06/12/2009 - 12:10 am.

    hello lance

    http://www.physorg.com/news151609044.html
    hello mr. Lance Groth
    THE FOLLOWING ARE TAKEN FROM THE ARTICLE YOU LISTED
    Zimmerman sought the opinion of the most complete list of earth scientists they could find, contacting more than 10,200 experts around the world listed in the 2007 edition of the American Geological Institute’s Directory of Geoscience Departments.

    group of 3,146 earth scientists surveyed around the world overwhelmingly agree that in the past 200-plus years, mean global temperatures have been rising, and that human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures.

    Two questions were key: have mean global temperatures risen compared to pre-1800s levels, and has human activity been a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures.

    THE ARTICLE STATES THEY SENT ENQUIRES TO 10,200 EXPERTS
    APPARENTLY ONLY 3,146 RESPONDED
    THE 97% YOU QUOTE IS FROM THE SMALL PERCENTAGE OF
    THE PEOPLE RESPONDING 3,146 OUT OF 10,200.
    THE QUESTIONS ASKED IS HAVE TEMPERATURES RISEN SINCE THE 1800S – CONSIDERING THERE WAS A MINI ICE AGE 200 YEARS AGO – MOST CLIMATALOGISTS WOULD AGREE THE EARTHS TEMPERATURE HAS RISEN SINCE THE 1800S.

  6. Submitted by david granneman on 06/12/2009 - 10:04 am.

    hello lance
    you said you grew up in pipestone
    i was born in tyler and grew up in luverne
    we where neighbors
    do you remember the rollerskatng rink in pipestone

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