Installing solar panels, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from OregonDOT’s photostream

The good news is that Pittsburgh’s clean economy is doing better than that of most cities. It was ranked 24 out of the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the country. That’s according to a recent green jobs assessment by the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. “Sizing the Clean Economy” is a new report based on the Brookings-Battelle Clean Economy Database. It looks at the size and growth of the “clean” or green economy nationwide. Here’s  a comparison from the report of Pittsburgh’s growth in clean economy jobs vs. the country as a whole:

Some other findings from the report include:

– Pittsburgh currently has 21,963 clean jobs.

– The fastest growing segment in Pittsburgh’s clean economy is solar photovoltaic (generating electricity from solar panels).

– The estimated median wage for clean economy jobs in Pittsburgh is $37,906 — nearly $2,000 higher than the median wage for all jobs.

As regards that last bullet point, when you look at the percentage of clean jobs in Pittsburgh which offer good pay for modest education (green collar jobs) vs. blue collar jobs, the picture is even rosier. 71.9% of green collar jobs in Pittsburgh offer good pay as compared to only 42.9% of blue collar jobs offering similar pay.

You can see the full profile for Pittsburgh’s clean economy here.

So what can we expect for the future of the clean economy? In the video below, Mark Muro, Senior Fellow and Policy Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program, outlines where we are now and where we need to go from here. He explains that most green jobs are currently in slow growing, well established areas like mass transit and water treatment. That said, the fastest growing segments are in clean tech jobs — solar, wind, smart grids — and many of these jobs involve manufacturing and export. However, these segments are still a relatively small part of the overall job picture and they can’t be counted on to make up for the massive loss of jobs in our overall economy anytime soon. What’s required to spur on growth in these clean tech jobs is investment — and that investment needs to be made right now. But, this investment needs to involve new and smarter partnerships between the public sector, our universities, government labs, etc.