OLYMPIA – Washington counted twice as many people working in “green” jobs last year as in 2008.
Although changes in the way jobs were counted are responsible for much of that growth, the state still saw an increase in people building wind turbines, constructing new energy-efficient buildings or retrofitting old ones, and manufacturing or shipping the supplies needed to cut energy use or clean up ecologic messes.
Gov. Chris Gregoire hailed the new figures as rare economic good news in the midst of the recession.
“We have to transition to a green economy,” she said, announcing the new figures at the Port of Olympia, where more than two dozen arms for wind turbines were aligned on the lot behind her.
Washington set out to count “green” jobs in 2008, after setting a goal the previous year of having 25,000 such jobs by 2020. In that initial survey, it found 47,000 jobs in private businesses.
Last year it decided to count green jobs in local, state and federal government projects, too. That added another 23,000, including about 3,000 in Benton and Franklin counties, where a major cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation is being fueled by federal dollars.
Spokane County had 5,239 green jobs, surveyors found, which is about 2.5 percent of the total jobs in the county. Nine other Eastern Washington counties had a total of 4,228 green jobs, nearly 6 percent of the jobs in those counties.