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Isles in bottom 25% of green jobs ranking

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Hawaii ranked 38th out of 50 states and the District of Columbia in its number of "green jobs" as a percentage of the total work force, according to a study released today by the Brookings Institution.

The study calculated that there were 11,113 such jobs in Hawaii last year, or 1.7 percent of all jobs in the state. The national average was 2 percent. The report, titled "Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment," was produced in association with the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, a Cleveland-based consulting firm.

The authors of the 68-page report devoted several pages to explaining how they defined "the clean economy" and what constituted a green job.

They summed up by saying, "The clean economy is economic activity — measured in terms of establishments and the jobs associated with them — that produces goods and services with an environmental benefit or adds value to such products using skills or technologies that are uniquely applied to those products."

The report cited five examples in Hawaii of employers that qualified under its criteria: Hawaii Coffee Co. Inc., which uses organic farming methods; Makai Ocean Engineering, which does research on wave and ocean power; R.M. Towill Corp., which provides professional environmental services; Rising Sun LLC, which designs and installs photovoltaic systems; and Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo, which specializes in environmentally sustainable architecture and construction services.

Although Hawaii ranked in the bottom quarter of states in percentage of green jobs, it ranked third in job growth in the sector between 2003 and 2010.

The 3,969 jobs added during that period represented an annual growth rate of 6.5 percent, according to the report. That was nearly double the average national growth rate of 3.4 percent.

"The clean economy sector is already an important source of industrial innovation, good-paying manufacturing jobs, and exports for a nation that needs them," said Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program and co-author of the report.

Muro said the major economic competitors of the U.S. such as China and Germany have jumped out ahead in terms of supporting clean economy development. "We risk giving away what should be a significant compositive advantage for the U.S.," Muro said.

The report, which also looked at U.S. metropolitan areas, ranked Honolulu 46th out of 100 with its 9,269 clean jobs, making up 1.9 percent of the work force. The 2,999 green jobs added in Honolulu between 2003 and 2010 resulted in an annual growth rate of 5.7 percent, according to the report.

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