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Jobs in the solar industry

​The US Department of Energy released the agency’s second annual report on energy jobs and the US, which indicated that jobs in the solar industry jumped by over 73,000 jobs or 25%.

By administering a new supplemental survey to over 30,000 energy sector employers, the Department’s 2017 US Energy and Employment Report (USEER) tracked dramatic growth in several key sectors of the US economy in 2016.

“This report verifies the dynamic role that our energy technologies and infrastructure play in a 21st century economy,” said DOE Senior Advisor on Industrial and Economic Policy David Foster.  “Whether producing natural gas or solar power at increasingly lower prices or reducing our consumption of energy through smart grids and fuel efficient vehicles, energy innovation is proving itself as the important driver of economic growth in America, producing 14% of the new jobs in 2016.”

Other key findings of the report include:

  • 6.4 million Americans now work in the Traditional Energy and Energy Efficiency industries which added over 300,000 net new jobs in 2016, 14% of the nation’s job growth
  • Energy efficiency jobs increased by 133,000 jobs for a total of 2.2 million
  • Investments in energy transmission, distribution and storage (our energy infrastructure) generated 65,000 new jobs
  • Wind industry employment added 25,000 new jobs to land at 102,000

USEER examines four sectors of the economy -- electric power generation and fuels; transmission, wholesale distribution, and storage; energy efficiency; and motor vehicles -- which cumulatively account for almost all of the United States’ energy production and distribution system and roughly 70 percent of U.S. energy consumption. By looking at such a wide portion of the energy economy, USEER can provide the public and policy makers with a clearer picture of how changes in energy technology, systems, and usage are affecting the economy and creating or displacing jobs.

Additional findings of the 2017 USEER include:

  • Of the 1.9 million workers in Electric Power Generation and Fuels, 800,000 employees contribute to the production of low-carbon electricity, including renewable energy, nuclear energy and low emission natural gas
  • Roughly 32% of the 6.5 million employees in the US construction industry work on energy or building energy efficiency projects
  • In an analysis of the 2.4 million employees in the Motor Vehicles industry, the 2017 USEER identified 259,000 jobs supported by alternative fuels vehicles, an increase of 69,000 during 2016

The report also found several energy industries with projected increases in new jobs. Responding to the USEER survey of employers, the energy efficiency sector predicted hiring rates of 9% in 2017, or 198,000 new hires. Projected hiring rates were at 7% within the electric power generation sector. Transmission, wholesale distribution, and storage firms anticipate 6% employment growth in 2016. However, the Fuels sector predicts a decline of 3% during 2017.

Yet even as the report found the opportunity for job growth in many energy sectors, 73% of all employers surveyed found it “difficult or very difficult” to hire new employees with needed skills.  This represented a slight increase in hiring difficulty over the previous year.

The 2017 USEER also provides individual State Energy and Employment Profiles for the first time.  The state reports highlight the growth and loss of jobs in particular energy sectors across the country and will provide a useful tool for state energy offices and economic development agencies.  State profiles demonstrate the unevenness of growth in new energy technologies.  For instance, 41% of all solar jobs are in California, while 24% of all wind jobs are in Texas.

USEER relies on primary data collected on behalf of the United States Department of Energy (OMB Control No. 1910-5179) and secondary data from the United States Department of Labor’s Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages for Q1 of 2016. This approach provides a quantitative analysis of how the four sectors provide direct employment across the economy within other occupations. DOE will conduct subsequent surveys to provide annual USEER reports that will provide year-over-year analysis of the American energy employment landscape

Labels: DOE,solar jobs,energy efficiency industries,solar installers,career

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