As the U.S. economy struggles to regain jobs, the nation’s biodiesel industry is employing thousands of Americans and generating billions of dollars. That’s according to a new economic study released by the National Biodiesel Board.

The study, conducted by Cardno ENTRIX, an international consulting firm that specializes in environment and natural resources economics, documents the industry’s contributions. It found that the U.S. biodiesel industry:

• Will support more than 74,000 jobs throughout the economy by 2015

• Provide some $4 billion in household income

• Will grow to generate nearly $1.6 billion in local, state and federal tax revenues in 2015

“This shows without question that a healthy and thriving biodiesel industry is good for America,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of NBB. “At a time when the federal government is looking for answers on how to jumpstart the economy, these numbers make clear that the federal policies supporting biodiesel are paying off.”

The industry is seeing a sharp turnaround this year with the tax credit reinstated and the supporting regulatory framework of the EPA’s 2010 Renewable Fuel Standard, which designated biodiesel as an advanced biofuel. Production jumped 69 percent in January of this year and has been steadily climbing since.

The study predicts the industry will support more than 31,000 jobs in 2011, generate income of nearly $1.7 billion to be circulated throughout the economy, and create more than $3 billion in GDP.