Sacramento ranks third in size of sustainable job workforce | Crain's Sacramento

Sacramento ranks third in size of sustainable job workforce

Workers for Sierra Energy in Davis review plans for a FastOx gasification plant built for the U.S. Army this year. The plant, the first of its kind, helps convert post-recycled solid waste into electricity and is an example of technology that has generated jobs in the Sacramento region. | Photo courtesy of Sierra Energy.

Sacramento has the third-highest percentage of its workforce in “green” jobs when compared to cities in the nation’s 50 biggest markets, according to a study by financial technology company SmartAsset.

About 2.4 percent of the region’s 708,000-person labor pool is employed in some type of environmentally friendly job, from sustainable farmers to homebuilders who use recycled materials in the structures’ roofs, walls and floors. Sacramento is tied for third with the San Francisco market; both are behind Washington, D.C., (4.1 percent) and Portland, Ore. (2.5 percent).

Meanwhile, Sacramento’s overall green jobs index – a combination of workforce size, average earnings, ratio of green earnings to average earnings, and housing costs – places it 23rd among markets surveyed, according to Smart Asset. The Dallas market ranked No. 1, while Oakland (No. 4) was the top California region.

According to SmartAsset Vice President of Financial Education A.J. Smith, green jobs are becoming more popular because of a growing desire by the public to do what they can to help to help the environment.

But in many cases, the financial benefit doesn’t hurt, either. “Working green jobs typically pays well,” Smith says. “They tend to require a lot of education. Across our top 11, the average worker in the green economy sector gets paid around 57 percent more than the average worker.”

Wages can be high – up to $100,000 annually in San Francisco and San Jose – but the high cost of living in those locations offsets the better earnings. In contrast, Las Vegas, with an average green jobs salary of $77,319, is in the top one-fourth of cities overall (No. 13). But its low housing cost makes it the best city overall for profitable green employment, according to the survey.

Sacramento, with an average green wage of $78,485 – about 44 percent higher than the “regular” job salary – ranks 12th.

Such findings are not surprising to Mike Hart, president and CEO of Davis-based Sierra Energy, which specializes in renewable energy technology.

“Green technology companies are flocking to our region due to the proximity to the capital of the eight-largest economy on earth, and the incredible innovations coming from [University of California at] Davis,” Hart says. “We have the location, we have the resources and we have political leadership that will make things happen.”

SmartAsset’s “Best Places for Green Jobs” report can be found at

November 1, 2017 - 11:59am