Oct. 07--Despite the decline in manufacturing employment in California, one key industrial sector is seeing robust job growth: the green economy. In a study released Wednesday, Palo Alto-based nonprofit Next 10 and Collaborative Economics Inc. of Mountain View found that manufacturing jobs in the state's green sector grew by 19 percent between 1995 and 2008. The increase came at the same time that overall manufacturing jobs in California tumbled 9 percent. "The green economy is in every region ... and if it continues to grow, it will continue to create new jobs," said F. Noel Perry, founder of Next 10, a nonprofit group that focuses on economic and environmental issues in the state. While clean tech businesses represent a small segment of the overall manufacturing industry, the study suggests that California's green industry is emerging as a major economic engine. The study noted that other barometers of the green economy -- venture capital investments and patent awards -- have risen sharply. In the first half of 2010, the state's clean tech firms attracted more than $2.9 billion in venture capital money. That represented a 250 percent increase from the year-earlier period and more than 40 percent of the global venture capital investments in green industries last year. California also was the top state for green technology patents with more than 450 patent registrations from 2007 to 2009 for solar energy, wind energy and advanced battery technology. New York was next with 300 patent registrations. The study's finding will likely add more fuel to the ballot battle over California's landmark climate change law, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions sharply by the year 2020. A voter initiative, Proposition 23, seeks to roll back the climate change law until the statewide unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters. Opponents say Proposition 23 will hurt one of the few sectors that's creating jobs in California. According to the Next 10 study, the growth in green jobs is geographically dispersed throughout California, underscoring the industry's economic potential. Sacramento and the Sacramento Valley, for instance, saw a 19.1 percent gain in green manufacturing jobs between 1995 and 2008. During the same period, overall factory position in the regions fell by about 20.9 percent. The San Francisco Bay Area had the largest gain at 55 percent, followed by Orange County, where the number of green jobs grew by 54 percent. By Rick Daysog, The Sacramento Bee, Calif.