What Oregon’s Green Manufacturing Jobs look like

Oregon’s Green Manufacturing Sector
By Oregon Employment Department,

The green manufacturing sector, as defined by the Oregon Green Jobs Council, includes firms that manufacture products often considered green. The firms included in this analysis were identified as producers of a green product by a number of online lists and registries. The analysis includes firms ranging from those that manufacture solar panels to those that produce organic canned goods.

This analysis, although it discusses employees, is not a study of green jobs (those with specific job duties related to producing green products) but a study of all employees at businesses that manufacture green products. No effort was made to determine or calculate the net environmental impacts of the products produced. Green, or energy efficient manufacturing processes, were also ignored for this analysis due to the incredible difficulty of identifying all ‘efficient’ manufacturers in the state.

Employment Trends

Forty-four Oregon companies that manufacture green products are included in this analysis. Food manufacturing, electrical equipment manufacturing, and fabricated metal product manufacturing were the sectors with the most employment.

Employment at the establishments totaled 1,921 in the fourth quarter of 2009, an increase of 55 percent (685 jobs) from the fourth quarter of 2004. Some of the job growth was a result of new firms coming into existence over the five-year time period (293 jobs) but the majority was a result of older firms expanding (392 jobs). All of the employment in this sector is private employment as there are no governmental employers actively manufacturing green products that could be identified.

One interesting subgroup of green manufacturing firms includes those that produce inverters, cells, panels or other materials for use in solar panels. Ten firms were identified in this subgroup in the fourth quarter of 2009, with a total of 308 employees. Despite the small number of jobs, this sub-group of firms has grown substantially since the fourth quarter of 2004 when only 8 individuals were employed.

One possible explanation for the small number of jobs at green manufacturing firms, and at solar panel related manufacturers in particular, is the use of staffing firms. When a manufacturing company uses a staffing firm for a portion of their work, those employees are not included in an analysis such as this one.

Wage Trends

A study of Unemployment Insurance wage records shows that 2,083 individuals were on the payroll of these green manufacturing companies at some time in the fourth quarter of 2009.

The count of employees in wage records typically differs from the official quarterly employment figure due to workforce turnover. There was a 3.7 percent increase in the number of wage records at green product manufacturers from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the fourth quarter of 2009. The sector outperformed all non-federal jobs over the one-year period (Table 1). A direct comparison for all private employment is not available.

Total wages paid grew substantially over the period (24%) to total $31.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2009. The mean wage for the quarter was $15,140 per worker.

In general, a larger share of employees working for manufacturers of green products earned high wages compared to all private employees in Oregon (Graph 1). Within this sector 53 percent of employees earned at least $20 per hour compared to 36 percent of all private employees.

The median hourly wage for employees in the green manufacturing sector was $20.87 in the fourth quarter of 2009, slightly lower than the $22.72 median for all companies in the same industries. The median hourly wage for all private employees was $15.70 during the period.

A large portion of workers in the green manufacturing sector are employed at firms with 50 to 499 employees (Table 2). Total private employment tends to be more evenly distributed between small, medium, and large employers. Roughly 27 percent of all private workers in Oregon are employed at a firm with more than 500 employees, but no green manufacturers were identified with such a large workforce.

Table 1
12-Month Percent Change in Count of Records, Total Wages, and Average Wage,
Employees Total Wages Average Wage
Green Manufacturing 3.9% 24.0% 19.3%
Total Non-Federal -5.9% -3.2% 2.9%
Source: Unemployment Insurance Wage Records
Table 2
Distribution of Employment and Median Wage

by Employer Size Class, 2009Q4

Green Manufacturing Total Private
Employment Wage Employment Wage
Under 5 employees 1.2% $14.55 7.0% $15.63
5 – 9 employees 2.1% $18.32 7.8% $14.98
10 – 19 employees 1.6% $31.07 10.2% $14.67
20 – 49 employees 12.2% $21.55 14.2% $15.11
50 – 99 employees 28.3% $19.54 10.6% $15.90
100 – 249 employees 28.9% $18.20 13.9% $15.45
250 – 499 employees 25.6% $25.12 9.2% $15.56
500 or more employees 27.1% $17.05
Source: Unemployment Insurance Wage Records
Graph 1

Distribution of jobs by wage category, green mfg sector & total private emp 4Q09

Hour Trends

In the fourth quarter of 2009 the median number of hours worked among green manufacturing employees was 505 hours. For those employees who worked in the same industry in 2004 the fourth quarter 2009 median was 536 hours, indicating that senior employees at companies in this sector tend to work more hours than newer employees.

Eighty-nine percent of employees at businesses producing green products worked at least 200 hours during the fourth quarter of 2009, while 81 percent worked more than 350 hours (typically considered “full time”). There is no comparable statistic for all private employment in Oregon, however in comparison roughly 68 percent of all non-federal employees worked more than 350 hours during the quarter.

Employees who worked 200 or more hours in the green manufacturing sector during the fourth quarter of 2009 experienced an 18.6 percent increase in their mean quarterly wage and a 6.7 percent increase in their median quarterly wage compared to the same quarter in the previous year (Table 3). This drastic increase is likely a function of increased work hours as manufacturers ramped up their production.

Table 3
Percent Change in Quarterly Wages
From Prior Year by Hours Worked,
Green Manufacturing Firms, 2009Q4
Mean Median
All Workers 19.3% 7.3%
Employed 200+ Hours 18.6% 6.7%
Employed 350 + Hours 17.9% 3.7%
Source: Unemployment Insurance Wage Records

Worker Trends

In an attempt to identify the career paths of individuals employed within the renewable energy sector, each individual employed in the sector during the fourth quarter of 2009 was tracked back in time to see where they had previously worked since 2001. Of the 2,056 individuals, 30 percent worked for the same green manufacturing firm for the duration of the period, 9 percent worked in the same industry since the first quarter of 2001 but at a different employer, and 62 percent worked in a different industry.

There is some indication that manufacturers of green products are currently hiring: 30 individuals employed at these firms in the fourth quarter of 2009 had not worked in any other quarter in Oregon since at least 2001. The manufacturing sector was harshly affected by the recent recession. However, roughly 700 individuals were employed at green manufacturing firms in the fourth quarter of 2009 that were not employed at all in Oregon in the fourth quarter of 2004. These individuals may have been hired as some firms opened or expanded, or they may have been hired to replace retiring workers.

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