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10 surprises about tomorrow's job market

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Those numbers were probably too optimistic: Don't count on a career making wind turbines just yet.

Actually, one of the projections the mayors produced turned out to be far too conservative. Last year, the BLS estimated green jobs for the first time, finding that they numbered 3.1 million, or 2.4 percent of full-time workers. But most of these jobs have been around for a long time. Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, calculates that only 100,000 new green jobs were created between 2003 and 2010.

Nor are some of the positive things that happened to the green movement last year – a 20-year low in carbon dioxide emissions, plummeting costs to consumers for solar power, and a record year for the wind industry – evidence that green jobs will surge in the future.

Emissions are down mostly because utilities are replacing coal-fired plants with cheaper and cleaner natural gas plants. Solar panels are inexpensive because Chinese manufacturers have flooded the market and driven some US firms out of business. Indeed, the administration has slapped tariffs of between 24 and 36 percent on Chinese panels. And the main reason that the wind industry had a good year is that installers were rushing to finish projects before the potential end of a federal subsidy.

With natural gas so abundant, the push to move to green alternatives looks as if it will be delayed.

5. Welcome to the era of the 'hybrid worker.'

Americans in recent decades have been changing careers with increasing regularity. In the future, many of them will be carving out personalized niche jobs by combining the skills they used in previous work experiences. Gina Vita is one such "hybrid worker."

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