The U.S. economy has largely recovered, but few sectors of the economy have seen the success of the solar—and it’s got the jobs to show it. Last year alone the solar industry created more than 31,000 jobs in the U.S., totaling over 173,800, that’s 21.8 percent more than it employed in 2013.
The new figures come from The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census, which is in its fifth year of publication. “The solar sector has grown an extraordinary 86 percent in the last four years, adding approximately 81,000 jobs,” said The Solar Foundation President Andrea Luecke. “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 percent 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.”
Solar employment significantly outpaced—by nearly 20 times—the national employment growth rate of 1.1 percent. in addition The Solar Foundation compared the number of those employed by solar to those employed in various parts of the fossil fuel industry. It's found that Solar now employs more than coal mining, which has 93,185 jobs; oil and gas pipeline construction, which has 10,529 jobs; and crude petroleum and natural gas extraction industry, which has 8,688 jobs. “Solar employers are also optimistic about 2015, expecting to add another 36,000 jobs over the coming year,” the report stated.
The majority of new jobs created in the industry were in installations. For instance, SolarCity said it hired more than 4,000 jobs in 2014. Overall installers now employ over 97,000 people, according to the report.
The report was heralded by many including the Department of Energy Secretary, Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Solar Energy Industries Association. “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,” Bloomberg said.
“Solar power is a key component of our all-of-the-above approach to American energy, creating good-paying American jobs that support our growing clean energy economy,” said DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz. The DOE said it has helped train more than 30,000 solar workers and plans to train fully 50,000 by 2020. “This diverse and vibrant workforce is vital to achieving the President’s goal of doubling electricity generation from renewable sources yet again by 2020."
“Solar energy is becoming an increasingly important part of America's future – and this new report offers additional proof of that,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Not only is solar helping to power more and more homes, businesses, schools and government buildings, but it’s also helping to power the U.S. economy in a very significant way – and, frankly, we’re just scratching the surface of our enormous potential.” Resch credited many public policies including the investment tax credit, net-metering, and state’s renewable portfolio standards for the growth.Tweet