Pew Report: Clean Energy Poised for Growth in Arkansas

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Wednesday, Jun. 24, 2009 11:10 am  

Jobs in Arkansas's clean energy economy grew more than twice as fast as overall jobs between 1998 and 2007, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts in the most detailed look yet at this sector.

In its report released Wednesday, Pew 's analysis found that between 1998 and 2007, jobs in Arkansas' clean energy economy grew at a rate of 7.8 percent, while overall Arkansas jobs grew by 3.5 percent. Arkansas was part of a national trend that saw job growth in the clean energy economy outperforming overall job growth in 38 states and the District of Columbia over the same period. Nationally, jobs in the clean energy economy grew at a rate of 9.1 percent while total jobs grew by only 3.7 percent, between 1998 and 2007. 

"Arkansas's clean energy economy is just getting started," said Don Richardson, Arkansas representative for the Pew Environment Group. "But between 1998 and 2007, jobs in the state's clean energy economy grew twice as fast as in the economy overall. The Arkansas Alternative Fuels Development Program has offered millions to businesses to spur investment."

For the study, Pew developed a clear, data-driven definition of the clean energy economy and conducted the first-ever hard count across all 50 states of the actual jobs, companies and venture-capital investments that supply the growing market demand for environmentally friendly products and services.

"We're proud to see our efforts in clean-energy development place us among the nation's leaders in this important industry," said Gov. Mike Beebe. "Our continued work in smart-grid technology, nanotechnology, windmill manufacturing and biomass development will all contribute to further growth in the clean-energy sector and create much-needed jobs for Arkansans."

In 2007, there were nearly 4,600 jobs in Arkansas' clean energy economy. Unlike previous studies of the so-called "green economy," Pew's numbers are a hard count of actual jobs, businesses and investments and do not rely on estimates, multipliers or projections. The report finds that the emerging clean energy economy is creating well-paying jobs in every state for people of all skill levels and educational backgrounds. Included in Pew's definition are jobs as diverse as engineers, plumbers, administrative assistants, construction workers, machine setters, marketing consultants, teachers and many others with annual incomes ranging from $21,000 to $111,000.

The private sector views the clean energy economy as a significant and expanding market opportunity. Venture capital investment in clean technology in Arkansas totaled nearly $23 million over the past three years.

Federal and state lawmakers, too, see the sector as helping to spur America's economic recovery and protect the environment. Arkansas' clean energy economy will receive a boost from the recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which allocates nearly $85 billion nationwide in direct spending and tax incentives for energy - and transportation-related programs. Arkansas provides financial incentives for clean energy - offering low-interest loans to small businesses to institute pollution prevention and waste reduction measures.

The complete study is available online at www.pewtrusts.org/cleanenergyeconomy.

 

 

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