Jobs: Primary Jobs
Traditionally primary jobs (manufacturing) were considered the anchors of local economies and essential for reporting economic success. However sustainability promotes a more local emphasis on natural resources and economy to deter exploitation of weak economies by more robust ones. Local economies cannot sustain themselves without external capital since money will always leave the local economy through simple things like external purchases and people travelling to other places. Therefore the dilemma becomes, how can we calculate exactly the sustainable amount of external capital needed to generate the right mix of primary jobs to sustain local economies? This indicator looks at the development of primary jobs as an indicator to monitor the flow of new capital in the local economy (Leigh & Hoelzel, 2012). The city of Houston ranked 23rd among the largest 63 cities in the country, in terms of percentage of manufacturing jobs ( U.S. Census Bureau, 2011). For this indicator primary jobs are defined as manufacturing jobs plus health sector jobs, for reasons as subsequently explained.
The indicator also looks at green jobs because they ensure that both private gains and public stewardship goals are met. Companies with job descriptions that qualify as green jobs, should be more resource efficient and hence more sustainable (McDonough & Braungart, 2002). Green Jobs can either be monitored by identifying products and services that are created or by the operational procedures followed in a company. In either case the products or procedures should improve or reduce impacts on the environment (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010).
Sustainability Benefit: Although traditional primary jobs were considered exclusively manufacturing, globalization has enabled the capture of foreign exchange from other sectors aside. Health care jobs in Houston, which are primarily service jobs, constitute a significant percentage of all jobs because the Texas Medical Center is the largest medical center in the world and attracts patients and researchers from all over the world. This is why primary jobs in Houston are defined as manufacturing jobs plus medical jobs in this study. The fact that Houston is not solely dependent on manufacturing for new capital creates a stronger base for a more sustainable local economy. This is especially important due to the lack of national and international competitiveness in the global manufacturing economy.
Sustainability Issue: Even with gains in medical jobs, these jobs plus manufacturing jobs, constitute less than one quarter of all jobs. High demand for single occupancy vehicles and the dependence, in Houston, on air conditioning contributes negatively to the environment and offsets both public and private gains from green jobs.