Study Claims Louisiana’s Green Jobs to Grow 14 Percent by 2021
But critics point to a heavy reliance on taxpayer subsidies
NEW ORLEANS, La. – A new study suggests that Louisiana will see a surge in green jobs in the next 10 years.
The study, conducted by the Louisiana Workforce Commission, predicts that green jobs will grow 13.8 percent by 2021, while overall job growth will increase only 8 percent.
With Louisiana’s annual growth rates expected to be 0.8 percent in 2012 and 0.9 percent in 2013, the study suggests that the Pelican State will be increasingly dependent on green technology for future economic growth.
According to Stephen Barnes, assistant professor at LSU’s Division of Economic Development, the number of green jobs created will depend heavily on public and private investment.
Critics of the study, including Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, contend that any surge in green jobs will require consistent government assistance.
“As the federal government falls deeper into bankruptcy and Louisiana continues to wrestle ballooning budget deficits each fiscal year, it is hard to believe that taxpayers can continue to provide consistent and long-term financing for the green industry.”
Although environmentalism is often attributed to the rise of the green movement, CEO Michael Hecht of Greater New Orleans Inc., a regional economic development group, claims that the rise in the demand for green technologies is a product of the free market.
Hecht claims that large multinational corporations like Freeport McMoRan, Kraft Foods, Dow Jones and Nike would not be involved in green efforts if the projects would not be profitable.
However, Briggs is skeptical, pointing to the recent Solyndra scandal as an example of what the green industry will look like in Louisiana.
“Time and time again we see that companies who do not take capital risks in the market and are propped up with taxpayer cash cannot support long-term productivity or job retention. We may see a surge in green jobs, but we will most certainly see a bust as well.”
LSU researchers define green jobs as “[any job that helps] protect or restore the environment, or conserve natural resources”.
“There are over 1900 vacancies in the green economy in [Louisiana],” said Curt Eysink, Executive Director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission.
Half of the jobs require specialized training or certificates, but Eysink contends that there are hundreds of public and private training programs throughout Louisiana.
Currently, Baton Rouge has the most green jobs in Louisiana with 28 percent, followed by New Orleans with 22 percent and Lafayette 18 percent, respectively.
Much of the growth over the next decade in green technologies is expected to take place in New Orleans, where large public and private investments are planned to grow green energy, construction, water management, manufacturing and waste management technologies.
Robert Ross is a researcher and social media strategist with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you can follow him on twitter.