Solar sees dip, but clean energy now employs 3 million Americans

Clean energy jobs are up nearly 11% in the second half of 2020, employing more than 3 million Americans in every state and nearly every county, according to the sixth Clean Jobs America report from E2

Credit: Petersen Dean

Like most of the economy, clean energy was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 economic downturn. At one point, more than 600,000 clean energy workers had filed for unemployment, but the sector was recovering strong after May to recover about half of that. jobs to end the year 307,000 clean energy workers. The decline in total clean energy employment was the first on record since E2 began producing its annual Clean Jobs America reports in 2016.

“Despite last year’s unprecedented decline, the data shows that clean energy is creating jobs in every state and nearly every province in America,” said Bob Keefe, executive director of E2. “The message to members of Congress is that if you want these high-paying jobs in your backyard, you need to support policies on the table that aim to recharge and grow clean energy.”

According to the analysis, energy efficiency jobs saw the largest decline, dropping around 11% over the year. Solar employment declined due to declines in sales and installation of solar energy for homes that were hit early in the pandemic and which did not fully recover despite growth in the second half of the year. In total, jobs in renewable energy fell by nearly 6 percent.

Clean energy sectors also saw a significant decline in 2020, including renewable energy (6%), grid and storage (7%) and clean fuels (7%). According to the analysis, renewable energy sources provide 492,891 jobs in the United States.

Several clean energy sectors did see job gains in 2020, including wind power that added about 2,000 jobs. But the electric and plug-in hybrid car industry provided about 12,200 jobs.

Despite the setbacks, clean energy jobs recovered faster than the total workforce across the country, according to the analysis. The number of clean energy jobs has grown by about 11% since May 2020, compared to less than 9% growth in the national workforce over the same period.

“The data shows that while clean energy employment took a significant hit from the pandemic, it recovered faster than many other industries,” said Phil Jordan, vice president of BW Research Partnership, who conducted the annual analysis for E2. executes. “Today’s report underscores the importance of tracking energy employment over time and demonstrates the importance of data-driven policy making to create jobs where they are most needed.”

Other findings from the report:

  • California, Texas and New York continue to lead the United States in total clean energy jobs. More than 100,000 clean energy workers lived in eight states
  • Jobs involved in clean energy projects represent 19% of all construction jobs, 5% of all wholesale jobs and 4% of all industrial jobs.
  • Georgia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Michigan have seen the fastest clean energy job growth since unemployment peaked in May, with all four states growing more than 20% from June to the end of the year.
  • North Carolina, Michigan and Texas lead the nation in clean energy jobs, each with more than 20,000 clean energy jobs outside major metropolitan areas. In Vermont, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming, most of the clean energy jobs were in rural areas.

News item from E2

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