Solar Industry Creating Jobs Nearly 20 Times Faster than Overall U.S. Economy

Solar Industry National Solar Jobs Census

The Solar Foundation (TSF), an independent nonprofit solar research and education organization, today released its fifth annual National Solar Jobs Census.

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The Census found that the U.S. solar industry employed 173,807 Americans in 2014, a figure that includes the addition of more than 31,000 solar jobs over the previous year, representing 21.8 percent growth in solar industry employment since November 2013.  Solar employment grew nearly 20 times faster than the national average employment growth rate of 1.1 percent in the same period.

“The solar industry has once again proven to be a powerful engine of economic growth and job creation,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director of The Solar Foundation. “The solar sector has grown an extraordinary 86 percent in the last four years, adding approximately 81,000 jobs. Our Census findings show that one out of every 78 new jobs created in the U.S. over the past 12 months was created by the solar industry – nearly 1.3% of all jobs. It also shows for the fifth consecutive year, the solar industry is attracting highly-skilled, well-paid professionals. That growth is putting people back to work and strengthening our nation’s economy.”

The solar installation sector is already larger than well-established sectors of fossil fuel generation, such as coal mining (93,185 jobs). The solar installation sector added nearly 50% more jobs in 2014 than the total created by both the oil and gas pipeline construction industry (10,529), and the crude petroleum and natural gas extraction industry (8,688).  Solar employers are also optimistic about 2015, expecting to add another 36,000 jobs over the coming year.

“The tremendous growth in the solar industry last year, including job growth that is outpacing the national average, is further evidence that we can clean our air and cut climate pollution while also growing the economy,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg L.P., philanthropist and 108th Mayor of New York City.  “The more data we have about the renewable energy industry, the better positioned policymakers and investors will be to make informed decisions. The Solar Jobs Census has the potential to help make that possible.”

Here are the report highlights:

  • Over the next 12 months, employers surveyed expect to see total employment in the solar industry increase by 20.9% to 210,060 solar workers.
  • One out of every 78 new jobs created in the U.S. since Census 2013 was created by the solar industry – representing 1.3% of all new jobs.
  • Of the 173,807 solar workers in the United States, approximately 157,500 are 100% dedicated to solar activities.
  • Wages paid to solar workers remain competitive with similar industries and provide many living-wage opportunities.
  • The installation sector remains the single largest source of domestic employment growth, more than doubling in size since 2010.
  • Solar workers are increasingly diverse. Demographic groups such as Latino/Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and African American, along with women and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces now represent a larger percentage of the solar workforce than was observed in Census 2013.

We will update with how each state did in the census in an upcoming post.

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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.