Good News! Electric vehicle-related jobs in Los Angeles grew by 15.3% between 2007 and 2010. While the number of these jobs is still small, totaling a little over 550 in 2100, the growth rate is a hopeful sign and is a small part of the overall growth in our green economy jobs. The growth rate in L.A.’s green economy jobs between 2007 and 2010 was 7.1%, yielding a total of over 89,000 jobs in 2010.
L.A. scored #3 in growth rate for electric vehicle-related jobs between 2007 and 2010, with Kansas City at #1 and Phoenix at #2. “Electric vehicle-related jobs” includes manufacturing of electrical equipment and other parts for electric cars. It doesn’t include, for example, what we at The Electric Connection do, install chargers for electric vehicles (EVs), nor the selling of electric cars. Nor does the 2007-10 growth rate include small companies of 5 or fewer employees. For these reasons, the 15.3% figure for 2007-10 is undoubtedly an underestimate of job growth in the Los Angeles area related to electric cars.
However, the figures are an indication of an exciting phenomenon occurring all over the country — the growth of the green economy. The green economy encompasses recycling, energy audits, solar cells, and other industries which, like EVs, have an environmental benefit. The growth of the green economy benefits not only the environment, but also has a particularly welcome benefit of creating middle income jobs that don’t require higher education.
Yes, many green economy jobs go to environmental engineers, computer programmers, and others who have gone to college. In fact, many of these college-educated people are the innovators who create the green jobs to begin with.
But many green economy jobs, like in the manufacturing of electrical parts for electric cars, don’t require a college education. People are calling them “green collar” jobs — jobs that can be filled by people who might otherwise fruitlessly look for blue collar jobs that have been lost to robots in manufacturing plants or have been shipped overseas to people who make low wages.
We’re experiencing a process that has repeated itself throughout history — innovation seeding job creation. When Scottish engineer James Watt created innovations that made the steam engine useful commercially, he made the Industrial Revolution possible. The Industrial Revolution started with steam-powered textile plants. Textile and other steam-powered manufacturing plants led to the creation of factory jobs, which at that time, required limited education. This allowed subsistence farmers to leave their fields and begin (in an admittedly arduous path!) upward mobility. This was the rise of the Middle Class.
Today, the green economy, created by innovation, yields both green collar jobs and those requiring higher education. The growth of jobs in the EV manufacturing sector in L.A. is good over the long term not only for our environment, but also for our job market, providing work for people with various levels of education.
For more information about the growth of electric vehicle-related jobs in L.A. and the rest of the country as well as other green economy jobs, go to the report, Sizing the Clean Economy, by the Brookings Institution, July 2011.