As automakers begin to accept the importance of stronger fuel efficiency standards, we may begin to see a rise in auto sector employment. This increase in jobs will be directly related to the process of creating a greener automotive fleet in the United States. As new technology is designed and implemented, automakers will need more skilled laborers to get these vehicles built and out onto the roads of our nation.

A new report prepared for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), United Auto Workers (UAW), and the Center for American Progress examines how new jobs will be created as Americans decrease their dependency on foreign oil — Driving Growth: How Clean Cars and Climate Policy Can Create Jobs (PDF).

The report addresses two main issues: saving oil through a more fuel-efficient automotive fleet will create good jobs and whether or not these jobs will be created here in the United States or abroad.

The first issue is a given. New technology leads to new jobs. However, the second issue is a big concern. According to the report, “Of the over 190,000 jobs anticipated by 2020, the number of domestic jobs created could vary greatly. Fewer than 50,000 jobs might go to American workers, or, with different incentives, more than three times that number, as many as 150,000 U.S. workers, could find employment as a result of new investments in the engineering and production of the technology needed to improve fuel economy.“

This is a huge swing and of course as Americans, we’d like to see a greater portion of these jobs stay stateside. However, where these jobs end up going will depend on several factors including incentives to keep production in the U.S. and energy and climate change legislation.

The report goes on to predict job growth in several different clean vehicle technologies. For example, we could see nearly 20,000 new jobs created by 2014 that are specific to the full hybrid technology. This number jumps to nearly 43,000 by 2020. As of 2008, there were only 3,014 jobs related to this technology.

Another category that is expected to see big numbers is clean diesel. This sector already has a jump on the full hybrid sector with more than 12,000 jobs in 2008. This number is expected to jump to 33,000 by 2014 and more than 42,000 by 2020.

However, these jobs aren’t guaranteed to be domestic jobs. We need this job growth to be here in the United States. As a result, environmental organizations, autoworkers, eco-advocates and others need to begin to show their support for comprehensive energy and climate change legislation. Automakers need to be enticed to produce these technologies here in the United States because Americans need to get back to work, especially those in the states hardest hit by the decline in the auto industry — Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.

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