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  • Author or Editor: Alan W. Hodges x
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Economic contributions of the green industry in the United States were estimated for 2013 using information on industry output, value added, employment and domestic/international exports, retail sector lawn and garden product sales, and economic multipliers from Impact Analysis for Planning (IMPLAN) regional economic models for each state. Direct industry output for all sectors was estimated at $136.44 billion (B), and total output contributions, including indirect and induced regional economic multiplier effects of export sales, were $196.07 B. The total value-added contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) was $120.71 B, including labor income contributions of $82.47 B, other property income contributions of $28.91 B and business taxes paid to local, state, and federal governments of $9.30 B. The industry had direct employment of 1,599,662 full-time and part-time jobs, and total employment contributions of 2,035,636 jobs in the broader economy. The largest individual industry sectors in terms of employment and GDP contributions were landscaping and horticultural services (1,105,526 jobs, $54.70 B); greenhouse, nursery, and floriculture production (240,809 jobs, $20.36 B); and lawn and garden equipment and supplies stores (217,798 jobs, $12.87 B). The top 10 states in terms of employment contributions were California (245,267 jobs), Florida (197,073), Texas (149,364), Ohio (77,664), Pennsylvania (77,569), Illinois (76,254), New York (73,676), North Carolina (72,014), Georgia (64,066), and Michigan (63,189). Green industry contributions represented 0.72% of U.S. GDP and 1.11% of total workforce employment, and it contributed over 1.0% of GDP in five states, and over 1.25% of employment in 10 states. Employment contributions averaged 0.6 jobs/mile2 of land area and 6.4 jobs per 1000 persons in the U.S. population, while GDP contributions averaged $34,176/mile2 and $382 per capita. Since 2007–08, green industry contributions in 2013 increased by 4.4% for employment and 2.7% for GDP in inflation-adjusted terms. Growth in the industry was highest for wholesale and retail trade, whereas production and manufacturing declined. Although the green industry has grown slowly in recent years, it remains an important contributor to national, state, and local economies.

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The U.S. nursery and landscape industry generates 1.9 million jobs and had an annual payroll of greater than $3 billion in 2002, yet little is known about nursery and landscape workers. This lack of information is even more pressing considering that labor generally accounts for greater than 40% of production costs and 31% of gross sales. Labor shortages, immigration reform, and legal status of employees are widely reported as the industry's most critical issues. We hypothesized that relevant data regarding the nursery industry workforce may raise an appreciation of the industry's diversity, increase political power and public awareness, and help stakeholders evaluate policy decisions and plan corrective strategies in a more informed manner. A total of 4466 self-administered questionnaires were sent in 2006, attempting to reach 30 nurseries in each of nine states with 1561 returned (35% response rate). Hispanics constituted 70% of the average nursery workforce, including general laborers (76%), crew leaders (61%), and sales/managers (others) (21%). Across firms, labor retention was less than 51% after 5 years and only 22% of employees understood English, raising questions regarding availability and access to training. Sixty percent of nursery employees had not received work-related training, although 81% of men and 72% of women were interested, and an association between training and employee retention existed. The highest rated training topic of interest was English/Spanish (respective of Spanish/English primary language respondents). There was a positive correlation between developing fluency and worker turnover, making the laborer attrition rate even more unfavorable for employers who not only lost employees with acquired experience, but also with acquired English skills.

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