COVID-19 erases five years of solar job growth

New analysis shows that the US solar industry will employ 114,000 fewer workers by June 2020, compared with previous forecasts that projected the industry would employ 302,000 Americans over the same time period.
COVID-19 erases five years of solar job growth
Courtesy of NREL

With an expected workforce of 188,000 people, the job loss will take the industry back to 2014 levels as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Last week the US government reported another 3 million unemployment claims. The solar industry is now losing jobs at a faster rate than the US economy.

The analysis from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) represents a 38 percent drop in solar jobs compared to previous estimates for June. The drop coincides with a 37 percent decrease in expected Q2 solar installations from pre-COVID forecasts, as the United States is only on track to install 3 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity in Q2 2020.

“Thousands of solar workers are being laid off each week, but with swift action from Congress, we know that solar can be a crucial part of our economic recovery” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA. “With a few simple changes, Congress has an opportunity to save solar jobs, rebuild our economy and advance clean energy even as policy makers address this very real public health crisis.”

All 50 states show solar jobs losses, with 36 states suffering job losses above 30 percent. Seven states and Washington, DC - including large solar states like New York and New Jersey - have seen solar job losses exceed 60 percent.

On May 13, a BW Research Partnership report based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data showed 95,600 renewable energy jobs and a total of 594,300 clean energy jobs had already been lost in March and April. SEIA’s analysis shows that vast majority of renewable energy job losses come from the solar energy industry.

The 37 percent decrease in new installed solar capacity is equivalent to the electricity needed to power 288,000 homes and $3.2 billion in economic investment.

Strategic government action can prevent further solar job losses, revive many of the already lost jobs, and help reinfuse billions of dollars into the U.S. economy.

For additional information:

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)

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