Economic growth is an essential characteristic of any healthy community or country. While that axiom primarily focuses on gross domestic product (GDP) growth which can seem intangible, closer to home we experience a healthy economy through good jobs and wages.
Today we can put a spotlight on one sector of the economy that is relatively unknown, but essential to our everyday lives. A first-ever study by the U.S. lead battery manufacturing and recycling industries finds that the combined lead battery industry produced a significant $28 billion economic benefit for the U.S. economy in 2016 and employed more than 20,000, with a broader impact of nearly 95,000 jobs.
“We are thrilled to clearly demonstrate our industry’s economic impact and provide perspective on how broadly our nation and communities directly benefit from the circular economy of lead battery manufacturing and recycling. For the first time, our industry has collected data that demonstrates lead batteries do more than start your car – they provide tens of thousands of jobs across the country,” said Jeff Elder, president of Battery Council International.
The important economic contributions of the lead battery and recycling industries are thanks in part to what the World Economic Forum and MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics have recognized as the world’s most successful example of a circular economy. This creates green manufacturing jobs through the production, recycling and reuse of batteries, helping our economy and our environment, while also helping lead batteries maintain their 99 percent recycling rate and status as the most recycled consumer product in the world.
In addition to recycling, the industry is sustainable in other aspects, such as the established industry infrastructure that ensures scalability and offers a cost-effective way to make renewable energy production more available. Through start-stop battery technology, lead batteries reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And not to be overlooked is the fact that lead batteries provide essential backup power for telecommunications, data and hospitals.
Employees who enter the lead battery industry, including many high school graduates, can expect higher than average salaries of more than $83,000 for recycling and mining positions, while manufacturing employees see similarly high salaries – averaging more than $62,000. These livable wage jobs create a positive economic benefit cycle between employer and employee, ultimately leading to happy and healthy communities and families.
In an era when high-paying manufacturing jobs are rare, the jobs created by the lead battery manufacturing and recycling industries benefit employees, their families and the communities where they operate. As the U.S. continues to develop an energy policy for a green, sustainable energy future, we must ensure that lead batteries are a part of that formula for reliable, cost-effective and environmentally friendly energy storage.