The Solar Foundation (TSF), an independent nonprofit solar research and education organization, today released its sixth annual National Solar Jobs Census. The new Census 2015 found that the U.S. solar industry employed 208,859 Americans in 2015, a figure that includes the addition of 35,052 solar workers over the previous year, representing 20.2 percent growth in solar industry employment in the 12 months preceding November 2015. Solar employment grew nearly 12 times faster than the national employment growth rate of 1.7 percent during 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. “Employment in solar has grown an extraordinary 123 percent since 2010, adding approximately 115,000 well-paying jobs. Our Census findings show that one out of every 83 new jobs created in the U.S. over the last 12 months was in the solar industry – 1.2% of all new jobs. The Solar Foundation is proud to play a vital role in delivering comprehensive solar jobs information to key decision makers about the technology’s tremendous contributions to the U.S. economy.”
The solar workforce is larger than some well-established fossil fuel generation sectors, such as the oil and gas extraction industry, which shed 13,800 jobs in 2015 and now employs 187,200 people. The oil and gas pipeline construction industry, which employs 129,500 workers, lost 9,500 jobs (U.S. BLS) during the same period. The solar industry is already three times larger than the coal-mining industry, which employs 67,929 people (JobsEQ 2015Q3). Solar employers surveyed expect to add more than 30,000 jobs over the next 12 months. The expected increase of 14.7% would bring the count of U.S. solar workers to 239,625 by the end of 2016.
Highlights from Census 2015:
- Over the next 12 months, employers surveyed expect to see total employment in the solar industry increase by 14.7% to 239,625 solar workers.
- One out of every 83 new jobs created in the U.S. since Census 2014 was created by the solar industry – representing 1.2% of all new jobs.
- Of the 208,859 solar workers in the United States, approximately 188,000 are 100% dedicated to solar activities.
- Wages paid to solar workers remain competitive with similar industries and provide many living-wage opportunities.
- With 119,931 solar workers, the installation sector remains the single largest solar employment sector. The installation sector grew by almost 24% since November 2014 and by 173% since 2010.
- The solar workforce continues to reflect greater diversity than many industry sectors, but the solar industry still has much work to do to represent the rich diversity of the overall U.S. population. Women in solar jobs increased by 2% and now represent 24% of the solar workforce.
Respected U.S. leaders and companies lauded the National Solar Job Census 2015 findings.
“The U.S. solar power industry continues to grow and create jobs, providing further evidence that promoting economic growth and fighting climate change can go hand-in-hand. The Solar Jobs Census helps fuel this progress by offering policymakers and investors the clean energy data they need to make informed decisions,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg L.P., philanthropist, United Nations Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Cities & Climate Change, and three-term Mayor of New York City.
“The continued growth and vitality of the solar industry is welcome news, especially after world leaders convened in Paris and signed an historic agreement recognizing the importance of climate change and of renewable energy as a way to help address it,” said Rick Needham, Director, Energy and Sustainability at Google. “As the largest corporate procurer of renewable power in the world and one of the largest corporate investors in both utility scale and residential solar, we’re doing our part to support solar not only because it provides clean, renewable power but also because it makes great business sense. And with the launch and recent expansion of our Project Sunroof, we’re helping our users explore whether solar makes sense for them and provides a pathway for cleaner power, economic savings, and more jobs.”
“Solar is surging. Renewable energy deployment is on track to transform our world, helping to lessen our reliance on coal and other polluting fossil fuels,” said Board of Los Angeles County Chair and former U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis. “Solar’s growth will continue to be robust in coming years. With wider solar adoption, thousands more high-quality jobs will be added to the economy that help propel us forward and advance our economic and environmental goals.”
“As the Census underscores, solar is providing a tremendous boost to our economy while meeting public demand for clean, affordable energy,” said Andrew Birch, CEO of Sungevity, the largest privately held solar installer in the U.S. “We’re extremely proud to be one the fastest growing solar companies in the U.S. – and part of an industry that’s creating hundreds of thousands of high-quality jobs.”
“Americans want good-paying jobs, and solar jobs are growing 12 times faster than the rest of the economy,” said former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. “Our citizens are making and installing those solar panels, and with the right policies, the U.S. can create hundreds of thousands more solar jobs here at home. What more needs to be said?”
The Solar Foundation and BW Research Partnership conducted the National Solar Jobs Census 2015. The report includes data collected from more than 19,000 U.S. businesses. The results from the Censusare based on rigorous survey efforts that include 287,962 telephone calls and over 44,220 emails to known and potential energy establishments across the United States, resulting in a total of 2,350 full completions for solar establishments in the U.S. The sampling rigor in the known and unknown universes provides a margin of error for establishment counts at ±0.85% and employment at ±1.99% at a 95% confidence interval.
“Census 2015 shows that solar company growth has been remarkably consistent over the last five years, despite an uneven jobs recovery in the U.S. over the same period,” said Philip Jordan, Vice President at BW Research Partnership. “Indications point to this sustained, upward trajectory continuing apace in the months and years ahead as the U.S. transitions to a clean energy economy.”
The full National Solar Jobs Census 2015 report is available at http://TSFcensus.org.