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American Cities With The Fastest Green Jobs Growth

5. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY
> Green Job Growth Rate: 8.8% per year

> No. of Green Jobs in 2010: 28,087
> Current Unemployment: 6.8%
> Peak Unemployment: 8.3% (Jan 2010)
> State Unemployment: 7.9%(23rd lowest)

In 2010, 6.3% of all jobs in Albany were green, or “clean economy” jobs — the largest share of any large metropolitan area in the U.S.  As the home of GE, the city has “a massive presence in wind-related activities, battery technologies, professional energy services, fuel cell development and production, and regulation and compliance—its largest segment. It is also overrepresented in hydro power, remediation, conservation, and environmental research among others,” according to Brookings. The Brookings report goes on to say that in addition to GE the growth of green jobs in the region is largely driven by the state’s government.

4. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR
> Green Job Growth Rate: 10.5% per year
> No. of Green Jobs in 2010: 11,934
> Current Unemployment: 7%
> Peak Unemployment: 7.8% (Feb 2010)
> State Unemployment: 7.8% (22nd lowest)

Little Rock is a major center of green technology manufacturers. The metropolitan area produces a number of green consumer products and electric vehicles. Little Rock also features a budding wind power industry, with companies such as LM Wind Power and Polymarin Composites having major presences in the area. Mayor Mark Stodola has announced his desire for Little Rock to be the “greenest city in the South.” Earlier this year, Stodola told InArkansas, an Arkansas-based news site, that “sustainability is a part of progress, and if Little Rock wants to be a progressive city, we must move forward on sustainability issues.”

3. Des Moines-West Des Moines, IA
> Green Job Growth Rate: 11.4% per year
> No. of Green Jobs in 2010: 5,256
> Current Unemployment: 5.8%
> Peak Unemployment: 6.6% (Feb/March 2011)
> State Unemployment: 6% (tied for 7th lowest)

Like the rest of the state, Iowa’s capital and most populous city has been left relatively untouched by the recession. The city’s employment has been very stable, and it’s current jobless rate of 5.8% is just below the state’s rate of 6%. Because it has remained healthy, the Des Moines government has been able to experiment with green programs, including a new waste reclamation system. Des Moines mayor T.M. Franklin Cownie has aggressively pushed the green collar movement in the state, setting up the Des Moines Energy and Environmental Task Force and starting a program creating jobs to re-plant trees. More than 2,500 green jobs have been created in the city in the past seven years.

2. Raleigh-Cary, NC
> Green Job Growth Rate: 13.7%
> No. of Green Jobs in 2010: 16,677
> Current Unemployment: 7.9%
> Peak Unemployment: 9.8% (Jan/Feb 2010)
> State Unemployment: 9.7% (tied for 11th highest)

Green job growth in Raleigh has brought the city’s unemployment rate down from state-level at peak to under 8% today. While 3.3% of all jobs in the metropolitan area are clean-economy jobs, the majority of these exist in the public sector, as is the case with many capital cities. Most of Raleigh’s green jobs are in “training, smart grid, pollution reduction, regulation and architecture and construction services,” reports Brookings.

1. Knoxville, TN
> Green Job Growth Rate: 14.6%
> No. of Green Jobs in 2010: 16,135
> Current Unemployment: 7.7%
> Peak Unemployment: 9.5% (June 2009)
> State Unemployment: 9.7% (tied for 11th highest)

No city has had a bigger explosion of green jobs in the past seven years than Knoxville. The city’s 6,000 new eco-friendly jobs have nearly tripled since 2003. To date, nearly one in every 20 jobs is considered green. Only Albany has a larger percentage of its workforce in environmentally friendly occupations. The biggest source of these jobs is Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a massive research facility that focuses on developing alternative energy sources and employs 4,800 people. Many of these new jobs have been in solar energy, and the city has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants in the past five years to jumpstart various initiatives. At a recent event celebrating the completion of the largest solar installation in the city, former mayor Bill Haslan stated that “solar is something business owners and individuals in Knoxville see as a viable alternative to coal and fossil-fuel generated electricity.” The technology-heavy city has an unemployment rate of 7.7%, more than two percentage points under the state average and nearly 2 percentage points less than its peak unemployment just two years ago. Partially to thank for this are thousands of green jobs that have been created.

-Douglas A. McIntyre, Charles B. Stockdale, Michael B. Sauter