Local News

Perdue says green job sector is 'red hot'

Posted September 30, 2009 12:09 a.m. EDT
Updated September 30, 2009 7:21 a.m. EDT

— Gov. Bev Perdue spoke about the ongoing recession and the state's growing green job sector Tuesday evening at the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce annual meeting.

Her sit down with business leaders came as newly released census figures show the median household income in the state fell more than $3,500 over the past eight years and the percentage of households below the poverty line rose 2.3 percent.

"They (income levels) are not down nearly as much as some of us worried they could be," Perdue said. "The unemployment rate is much too high. The job losses are much too high."

Unemployment in the Triangle fell to 8.6 percent in August from 9.1 percent in July.

But the job market isn’t necessarily improving. More than 5,200 fewer people were working last month and the size of the region’s work force – those people working or seeking jobs – fell by more than 10,000, according to the North Carolina Employment Security Commission.

The number of people working across the Triangle fell to 793,630 in August. Meanwhile, the ranks of those seeking work dropped to 74,662.

Perdue said Tuesday that she thinks the answer to job creation is education. Some business leaders and employers in the crowd agreed.

"We are going to focus on job creation and we are going to focus on good education, which is really tied to job creation,” said Sepideh Asefnia, chair of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.

Perdue also said that there were areas showing state job growth.

"This green economy is red hot. Green is gold in North Carolina. The military, aviation (and) aerospace sector is alive and thriving and expanding in North Carolina," she said.

Perdue has proposed to make green energy jobs a cornerstone of the state's economy.

A Pew Center report, released in July, tracked clean energy economy job growth from 1998 through 2007, a period that saw North Carolina's clean energy economy jobs grow by 15.3 percent, while the overall job growth rate in the state was 6.4 percent.

In 2007, more than 1,700 clean energy businesses in the state accounted for 17,000 jobs. From 2006 through 2008, more than $82.5 million in venture capital was invested in the state's clean energy economy jobs.

Perdue’s green energy plan includes the use of $18 million in federal recovery funds to create an Energy Investment Revolving Loan Fund. The fund will provide low- and no-interest loans, up to $1 million, to finance energy-saving projects.

She also proposes another $10 million to expand the state’s Green Business Fund to provide support to new, emerging and expanding green economy businesses.