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New Study Showing Indiana Lacks Green Jobs

According to the Indiana Business Research Council, green jobs make up 1.7 percent of the state’s total employment.

wind farm

Photo: Jennifer Tomaloff (Flickr)

Indiana has only 1,700 green jobs maintained by sustainable industries and facilities such as this northern Indiana wind farm, according to a Department of Labor study.

The survey, which involved a sample from more than 6,700 firms, is the first of its kind detailing green job industry and occupation.

Economic Analysis Director Tim Slaper said there is no official mechanism to collect this kind of data.

“We can’t measure the size of the green economy using these standard and secondary government sources,” Slapers said. “So that’s why we did it.”

The report was intended to illustrate the demand for green jobs specifically in the automotive industry. In Michigan, nearly 26,000 green jobs were in transportation equipment manufacturing, while in Indiana there were only 1,700. Slaper said Indiana makes a lot of automotive parts, but lacks the sustainable, automotive engineering jobs that have helped expand Michigan’s “green workforce.”

That could change soon though, according to Patsy Brackin, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology and program director for a new living-learning community that emphasizes sustainability in engineering early on in a student’s education.

“I want students to stay in mechanical engineering who are designing automobiles,” Brackin said. “Because they understand about materials and how materials affect the overall carbon footprint and energy footprint that they will do better jobs at designing automobiles.”

The key, Brackin said, is getting these students to stay and work for Indiana companies after graduation. Out of the 256 Indiana jobs the Business Research Center study qualifies as in “high demand,” 42 are green. The study does not show where Indiana’s green economy is heading.

“The question is, are we going to grow faster or slower with respect to other states?” Slapers asks. “And that’s a big question mark.”

The survey is part of an 18 month U.S. Department of Labor study looking at green job numbers in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio that is primarily funded through stimulus dollars.

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