Need a job? The U.S. solar industry is a good place to start handing out resumés, experts say.
Now employing nearly 250,000 workers, the nationwide industry has experienced a 167 percent increase in employment over the past decade, according to the Solar Foundation’s tenth annual national Solar Jobs Census.
“This reflects Americans’ trend toward pursuing solar and other renewable energy options, driven by lower costs than ever,” says Senior Attorney Lauren Bowen, leader of SELC’s Solar Power Initiative. “Going solar creates jobs and boosts the national economy, but solar power is still a vastly underutilized resource across our region.”
Adds Bowen, that’s why SELC is striving to break down policy barriers in order to make solar accessible to people and businesses everywhere.
Here’s a look at a few of the most striking statistics the Solar Foundation just released in its 2019 census:
- The solar workforce added more than 5,600 jobs nationwide from 2018 to 2019.
- In the five-year period between 2014 and 2019, solar employment increased 44%, five times faster than job growth in the overall U.S. economy.
- About two-thirds of U.S. solar workers (about 162,000) are employed at installation and project development firms. Others work in manufacturing, operations and maintenance, sales, and miscellaneous categories.
- Women make up 26% of the solar workforce. Latino/Hispanic workers make up 17%, Asian workers make up 9%, and black or African American workers make up 6%.
- Solar jobs increased in 31 states in 2019. Florida led the nation for the number of jobs added, followed by Georgia.
“This incredible solar job growth is not just a national trend,” says Bowen. “It is also benefiting the Southeast as rooftop solar and solar farms create good-paying, homegrown jobs across the region.”
The census highlights the Southeast as “one of the hot spots for American solar growth,” and eight of the region’s 13 states experienced solar job growth in 2019. After Georgia, the largest increase in jobs in SELC’s six states went to Virginia and South Carolina.
In a press release from the Solar Foundation, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said the rapid growth of the solar industry across all corners of Virginia is key to building the clean energy economy of the future.
Added Northam, “I am thrilled to see the momentum continue as we prioritize policies that will accelerate these solar investments and help us achieve our goal of reaching 100 percent carbon-free energy generation within the next 30 years.”
This regional and national solar job growth is great news, but it’s only a fraction of what we can accomplish over the next decade as we continue to act on climate change and expand renewable energy use to reduce our dependence on energy produced by fossil fuels. As the renewable energy movement continues to gain traction, we expect even more job creation in the sunny South.