By Katharina Bergant, Rui C. Mano, and Ippei Shibata
December 13, 2022
Supporting affected workers through transfers, tax breaks, and training would ease the shift in the labor force
The US administration has committed to ambitious climate goals and is casting the transition to net-zero emissions as an opportunity to create new and high-paid “green” jobs.
However, labor market transitions can be difficult for some workers. Take the example of a coal miner. If they wish to switch to a non-polluting job, how easy would it be? Would it entail moving across the country?
Our research found that the answer is not as straightforward as might be expected. On one hand, the miner won’t have to go very far to find a non-polluting job, as green jobs can typically be found close by. But the transition to a green job may still prove difficult because it requires different skills.
The good news is that our research also found that US labor markets have responded flexibly in the past to transitions away from polluting industries, without major disruptions to employment or average workers’ pay.
Our research takes an existing classification of green-intensive jobs based on the underlying number of tasks that use fewer natural resources or make their business more environmentally friendly. Pollution-intensive jobs are t …