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Red States, Green Jobs

J. Mijin Cha

Here's one more reason to be puzzled by the GOP's animus toward green jobs: It turns out that the clean economy is disproportionately fueling economic growth and opportunity in states that tend to send Republicans to Congress -- states that are also struggling with high rates of unemployment and poverty. 

The South has the largest number of clean economy jobs, with seven of the top 21 states for clean economy jobs. Among them, Florida has over 100,000 clean economy jobs. Georgia has over 83,700, and Tennessee has over 76,000. At the same time, the South also suffers from the highest rates of poverty [PDF] in the country. Clean economy investments provide much needed jobs and economic growth in these high poverty areas. By cutting clean economy programs and incentives, conservatives are threatening one of the strongest economic engines in the South. 

In Mississippi, which has an unemployment rate over 10 percent and the highest poverty rate in the nation at 22.7 percent, green jobs are expected to grow by 18.5 percent in the next decade, much higher than the overall expected job growth rate of 12 percent. Recently, a 100-megawatt solar panel production facility opened in Hattiesburg, and plans are underway to build multiple sites statewide to turn wood chips into biofuel. Currently, the state has more than 17,000 green jobs, a number that will only grow with strong governmental support.