The growth of the renewable energy industry is a genie that President Trump can’t put back in the bottle. A recent report by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) found that an estimated 4 to 4.5 million people are employed in clean energy industry jobs in the US. Employment in solar and wind have grown by 20 percent since 2012, 12 times faster than the rest of the US economy.
“President Trump’s regulatory freeze that halted four rules designed to promote greater energy efficiency appears to be just the first salvo in an ongoing plan to roll back environmental protections and slash environmental budgets. While that is obviously foolish from an environmental perspective, it is also problematic from an economic/job creation standpoint,” said Liz Delaney, program director of EDF Climate Corps.
The report, Now Hiring: The Growth of America's Clean Energy & Sustainability Jobs, found that for every $1 million invested into the clean energy industry an estimated 8 jobs were created. That’s nearly 3 times more than the fossil-fuel industry which creates about 3 jobs for ever $1 million invested. The report found renewable energy jobs are locally based and contribute to regional economies with wages above the national median. For instance, solar workers earn an average of $17.04 per hour. The average wage of a clean energy worker is almost $5,000 above the annual national median.
The report also suggested that local and state policies increased investments in energy efficiency. As a result, 2.2 million were employed in energy efficiency positions in 2016. Job creation in peripheral sectors included workers employed in home efficiency markets, waste reduction, conservation and environmental advocacy education.
“Policy makers at the local, state and federal level must also recognize the positive economic impacts of this new job class and support the policies and programs that encourage growth and investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency, green transportation and more. Efforts to roll back or weaken environmental and energy policies will negatively impact current and future U.S. jobs, while slowing clean energy innovation,” said Liz Delaney, program director of EDF Climate Corps.
Indeed, the Solar Foundation’s recent National Solar Jobs Census found solar jobs are becoming a more important engine of jobs growth. They accounted for one of every 50 new jobs in the US during 2016, adding more than 51,000 jobs to the economy. The report also stated the solar workforce became more diverse last year as more women, minorities and veterans found jobs in solar.Tweet