In its most stunning National Solar Jobs Census yet, The Solar Foundation found that solar power accounted 1 of every 50 new jobs in the US in 2016. The report found that last year the solar industry added more than 51,000 jobs reaching a total of 260,077 in 2016 and helps further cement the importance of the solar industry in the US economy.
Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said “That's an incredible finding that proves that solar energy is increasingly becoming a linchpin in America's economy. When communities across America open their doors to solar, the jobs come racing in.” It’s the fourth consecutive year that saw more than 20 percent in jobs, which SEIA said greatly outpaces job growth nationwide.
The solar industry also supports an increasingly diverse workforce, according to the census. Last year, 9 percent of solar workers were veterans—compared to 7 percent of the overall U.S. workforce. In 2016 the amount of female solar workers reached 28 percent, up from 24 percent the year before. At the same time, the percentage of African-American solar workers increased to 7 percent in 2016 from 5 percent while the percentage of Latino or Hispanic workers increased to 17 percent from 11 percent the year before.
The National Solar Jobs Census 2016 is The Solar Foundation’s seventh annual jobs census. Jobs in the solar industry grew by 25 percent over 2015, according to the report. The report stated it was largest annual growth percentage since the foundation released its first census in 2010. Moreover, in 44 of 50 states solar jobs increased in 2016.
“With a near tripling of solar jobs since 2010, the solar industry is an American success story that has created hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs,” exclaimed Andrea Luecke, executive director of The Solar Foundation. “In 2016, we saw a dramatic increase in the solar workforce across the nation, thanks to a rapid decrease in the cost of solar panels and unprecedented consumer demand for solar installations. More than ever, it’s clear that solar energy is a low-cost, reliable, super-abundant American energy source that is driving economic growth, strengthening businesses, and making our cities smarter and more resilient.”
While the state that had the most solar jobs was California (also the state with the highest population in the country and the most solar installed). The states that followed California, in order, in terms of solar jobs were Massachusetts, Texas, Nevada and Florida, according to the report.
“Solar is an important part of our ever expanding clean energy economy in Massachusetts, supporting thousands of high-skilled careers across the Commonwealth,” said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R). “Through the continued development of solar incentive programs, Massachusetts is positioned to double the amount of solar for half the cost to ratepayers and maintain our position as one of the best states in the country for energy diversity.”
The report, which considers solar workers as those who spend at least 50 percent of their time on solar-related work. However, it has found that approximately 90 percent of these workers spend all their work time on solar-related work. Within in the solar industry, jobs grew across all sectors, according to the report.
The biggest jobs growth was in project development, the report stated, which saw an increase of 53 percent, reaching 34,400 jobs. Sales and distribution jobs also saw a large increase of 32 percent, reaching 32,147 positions. The solar manufacturing sector also saw a 26 percent growth rate, reaching 38,121 jobs. The largest sector, installation jobs, grew by 137,133 jobs, at a rate of 14 percent.
“More and more business leaders and investors recognize that climate change presents both risks and opportunities, but they need better information to make informed decisions. The Solar Jobs Census helps provide that,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg L.P., philanthropist, and three-term Mayor of New York City.Tweet