Report: Green Jobs are More Resilient in the Recession
Dave Gallagher | The Bellingham Herald
BELLINGHAM, Wash. _ Wes Herman's company is in a situation that seems
a bit unusual these days: With all the problems swirling around in today's economic recession, he's in a hiring and expansion
"We're not just hiring because we're opening stores, but because of the growth at existing stores," said Herman, the owner
of The Woods Coffee. His seven-year-old company will soon open its ninth Whatcom County coffee shop and currently employs
about 100 people. It needs to hire about 15 people now, and is planning to hire more later this year.
"With all of the bad news these days, I'm grateful to be in this position," Herman said.
Job layoffs have been the biggest economic news for the first six weeks of 2009, but so far it's been an uneven transition
regarding who is suddenly out of work. A new state report has identified which jobs are the safest bets to weather the current
recession, and which are the most vulnerable.
According to the report from Washington Employment Security Department, health care, education and "green" jobs _ including
positions focused on finding new solutions for energy needs _ are expected to be the most recession-resistant in 2009. The
industries expected to be the most vulnerable this year are construction, manufacturing, finance, insurance and retail. For
details of the report, visit workforceexplorer.com and hit the "Washington Labor Market Quarterly Review, 4th Quarter 2008"
Even in the hard-hit industries, however, there will be companies able to thrive, such as Herman's coffee company in retail
or Aluminum Chambered Boats in manufacturing, which continues to look for welders and riggers for its projects, said company
founder Larry Wieber.
Read the complete story at http://www.bellinghamherald.com/602/story/794713.html
For those looking for a new career that has some stability, health care and education have been industries that weathered
previous recessions because people still need health care and, as unemployment rises, education becomes an option for people
who have lost a job and want to switch careers.
The green industry is expected to see growth this year as rising energy costs have directed our focus to finding new solutions,
according to the report.
Green industry is growing because it's become economically viable, said Todd Kunzman, general manager at Andgar Corporation.
The Ferndale company focuses on metal-based construction, but also does a variety of alternative energy projects, including
a digester system that converts cow manure into energy and byproducts such as animal bedding. As energy costs increase, the
time it takes to recoup the money made in the original investment is getting shorter.
"It becomes more viable when it makes economic sense for the customer, and I think that's starting to happen," Kunzman
Dana Brandt, owner of Ecotech Energy Systems, said one reason for this growth is because alternative energy solutions have
become more mainstream. Brandt's Bellingham company designs and installs solar panels for homes and businesses.
"We're in a different place now when it comes to alternative energy," Brandt said. "I think people understand that the
price is not going to go down (for traditional energy sources) in the long-term."
Brandt started his business five years ago and has been steadily growing. It's still a small operation, however, with two
employees, so he's cautious about job growth when talking about his industry to students at Western Washington University.
"There doesn't seem to be an easy answer when it comes to job growth when it comes to renewable energy, because it's an
industry that's constantly changing," Brandt said. "My advice to students is to figure out what type of work you want to do
and learn those core competencies, then specialize in the type of field that is experiencing the growth."
While people need health care no matter what's happening in the economy, the industry is not entirely recession-proof.
Matt Rose, chief operating officer at Mt. Baker Imaging, said they've recently seen a slowdown in appointments for body scans
and imaging. He believes some may be postponing appointments if they have lost health insurance by being laid off or can't
afford the deductible. The result has meant some belt-tightening but no layoffs.
St. Joseph Hospital is also cutting expenses, but it is still hiring, particularly in positions where there has been long-time
worker shortages. This includes registered nurses and therapists, said Shawna Unger, regional director for PeaceHealth Whatcom
Region. For entry-level positions, such as clerical work, the hospital can get up to 150 applicants within the first few days.
"We completely empathize with the fear and unknown in the community around the job market. We are working to form even
greater partnerships with WorkSource to assist in communicating about the job hunt, careers in health care," Unger said in
Other aspects of health care are in a hiring mode. Sterling Life Insurance now has about 750 employees in Bellingham, up
about 100 from last year. Allie Hanegan, human resource recruiter, was at a career fair at Western Washington University last
week looking for people in a variety of positions. The company provides supplemental insurance coverage products for individuals
"The older population is a growing demographic, and we need to meet that need," Hanegan said.
As for education, opportunities for teaching are expected to remain stable because of retirements and turnover, according
to the report.
"There may also be more people going back to school, so the demand will be there," Giannamore said.