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The Brookings Institution Sizes Up The 'Clean Economy'; Denver Growing Faster Than U.S. But Still Has Catching Up To Do

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President Barack Obama, right, and Vice President Joe Biden tour the roof of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science with Blake Jones, left, CEO and President of Namaste Solar, to view the solar panel installation in Denver on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009 before the signing of a $787 billion economic stimulus bill. (AP Photo/Pool, Darin McGregor) | AP

Denver's clean economy ranks 15th in quantity of clean energy jobs among 100 large metropolitan areas surveyed by the Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program. Colorado Springs is ranked 99 in the same study.

Endeavoring to monitor the growth and effect of green professions for U.S. competitiveness, the institution released a report called "Sizing the Clean Economy". The report drafts up area profiles based on the number of their clean jobs and their slice of the job sector pie in the area, the growth of clean jobs over time, along with exports and annual wages.

According to the report, Denver has 27,929 clean jobs and the number is growing by approximately 4.7 percent annually. Those jobs in turn each have an estimated median wage of $47,602 annually, compared to the estimated $43,296 for other Denver jobs. While Boulder is leading nationally in per-capita clean jobs according to a smaller report obtained by the Daily Camera, both cities fall at least eight percent below the national average in terms of "green" collar jobs--so-called for green occupations paying mid-level wages.

Solar Photovoltaic energy is listed as Denver's fastest growing segment of the economy, which is not too surprising for a city that claims to have 300 days of sunshine a year.

Nationally the study concludes that there are some 2.7 million workers employed in the clean economy and found that, "though modest in size, the clean economy employs more workers than the fossil fuel industry and bulks larger than bioscience but remains smaller than the IT-producing sectors."

It goes on to assert that,"the clean economy offers more opportunities and better pay for low- and middle-skilled workers than the national economy as a whole. Median wages in the clean economy--meaning those in the middle of the distribution--are 13 percent higher than median U.S. wages."

The report shows that Denver has grown significantly greener since 2004, when Colorado voters passed Amendment 37 requiring the state to rely increasingly on renewable energy resources. Most recently Colorado has enforced laws to decrease petroleum consumption by 30 percent by the year 2020.

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