Isolated Hard Times: Ethanol’s Job and Economic Outlook Remain Strong

19 11 2011

We are reminded of it everytime we turn on the media. It’s a ubiquitous reminder that jobs are scarce, budgets strained, and spending frugal.

Yet the question remains – are all sectors truely created equal in terms of our recent macroeconomic trough? I was curious to see the impact within the renewable fuels arena, a major employer and source of American fuel, so I tracked down some statistics and facts to paint a clearer picture.

According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s 2010 Minnesota Annual Report, “Minnesota’s ethanol industry generated more than $2.5 billion in economic activity in 2009 and supported more than 6,800 jobs … Ethanol production in the state increased to 862 million gallons in 2009 from 550 million gallons five years ago.  The MDA report estimates the industry is on tap to increase production to 1.1 billion gallons this year with a projected economic impact of $3.1 billion and approximately 1,500 additional jobs.”

Minnesota also boasts 21 ethanol plants across the state, all providing economic opportunities for suffering rural economies.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture

In order to determine the significance of that figure and ethanol’s efficacy in providing employment opportunities, I thought it imperative to compare it to the unemployment data for Minnesota. As of October, Minnesota’s unemployment rate fell to 6.4% while the national unemployment fell to 9%, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

All other factors aside, it seems no coincidence that Minnesota is much better off than most of the country in this recession. A state-wide statute has set the goal for increasing the ethanol blend in fuel to 20% by 2013, and they also offer  more E85 pump stations than any other state in the nation.

These regulatory initiatives in addition to renewable fuel industry proliferation have proved to be the successful dual pillars that continue to drive Minnesota’s economic development agenda.





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