Economy

A new report from an economic research group says Ohio could gain hundreds of thousands of jobs through investment in clean energy and other efforts to address climate change. 

The ReImagine Appalachia Coalition, a progressive policy group, asked economists to assess its blueprint for the region and what it could mean for employment opportunities in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, found that nearly 235,000 jobs could come to Ohio if federal officials follow the policy blueprint.

The blueprint policy released earlier this year outlined a plan that would improve the economy in Appalachia following the COVID-19 pandemic. The coalition created the blueprint to provide answers on how to change economic inequality, racism, and address climate change in the region. 

The plan included expanding opportunities through public investments by ensuring access to union jobs and community benefits, rebuilding the middle class by promoting union rights and better pay, and building a sustainable region by making manufacturing more efficient and by modernizing the electric grid.

The plan showed how federal funding could support the efforts listed and more. The Political Economy Research Institute’s new study shows how the blueprint could create jobs in  Ohio every year for the next 10 years. 

“When we add up for Ohio, the clean energy jobs and the jobs in manufacturing, infrastructure, land restoration, and agriculture that’s where we get this number,” Institute researcher Robert Pollin explained. 

“They would carry over year to year on average,” Polling continued.

According to the study, a federal investment package with annual allocations of roughly $9 billion to Ohio for the next 10 years, along with $19 billion in private investments, could generate 235,000 jobs in the state. 

Amanda Woodrum is a senior researcher with Policy Matters Ohio, a left-leaning policy research group that partnered with ReImagine Appalachia. 

“If enacted, this plan would bring Ohio’s unemployment rate back down to 4%, while also laying the foundation for a more sustainable 21st century economy going forward,” Woodrum said. 

Woodrum said her group expects that another coronavirus pandemic federal stimulus package will come and that it will have a significant impact on the region if Appalachia is a main focus. 

“Appalcahia has long provided the raw materials for the prosperity of the rest of the nation while itself has suffered in poverty,” Woodrum said.  

Steve Hersenberg is the executive director of the Pennsylvania based research institute, the Keystone Research Center. The center also partnered with ReImagine Appalachia. 

“Our jobs crisis and our climate crisis are both urgent and this report shows that investing in federal climate stimulus based on the ReImagine Appalachia blueprint is the perfect recipe for our region,” Hersenberg said. 

Coalition leaders and researchers from the Institute will release reports on estimated job numbers for West Virginia and Kentucky in the near future. 

 

Alana Watson is covering the workplace, economic opportunity and infrastructure issues for the ReSource from partner station WKU Public Radio in Bowling Green, KY.