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Employment in the US solar industry declines by nearly 8,000 jobs finds National Solar Jobs Census

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As of 2018, the National Solar Jobs Census, conducted by The Solar Foundation, found that solar employment in the US declined by nearly 8,000 jobs, or 3.2 percent since 2017, although, overall, the solar workforce has grown by 159 percent since the first Census was released in 2010, adding nearly 150,000 jobs.
Employment in the US solar industry declines by nearly 8,000 jobs finds National Solar Jobs Census
Courtesy of NREL

The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2018 is the ninth annual report on the size and scope of the American solar workforce. Based on a rigorous survey of solar employers, it is the most comprehensive analysis of solar labor market trends in the United States.

The National Solar Jobs Census found that the US solar industry currently employs 242,343 solar workers, defined as those who spend 50 percent or more of their time on solar-related work. However, solar employment has declined by nearly 8,000 jobs, or 3.2 percent, since 2017 despite overall growth in employment (159 percent) since 2010.

Solar jobs increased in 29 states in 2018, including many states with emerging solar markets. States with the highest employment gains include Florida, Illinois, Texas, and New York State. With a backlog of utility-scale projects and new policy incentives in key states, the outlook for solar jobs is expected to improve in 2019. Survey respondents predict that solar jobs will increase 7 percent in 2019, bringing the total to 259,400 jobs.

The National Solar Jobs Census also includes a detailed analysis of the solar workforce by industry sector (installation and project development, manufacturing, wholesale trade and distribution, operations and maintenance, and other) and by market segment (residential, non-residential, and utility-scale). It also features a demographic analysis of women, people of colour, and veterans in the solar workforce and the latest information on wages, hiring trends, education and experience requirements, and other workforce development resources.

For the first time, the 2018 Census includes jobs data for Puerto Rico, which has 1,997 solar workers. With Puerto Rico jobs included, the total number of US solar jobs comes to 244,340.

“The impact these unnecessary tariffs are having on America’s economy and its workers should not be ignored. The damage, from a decline in jobs to a decline in deployment, far outweighs any potential benefits the administration intended.

“We hope this data serves as a wake-up call to the administration that the Section 201 tariffs should be reversed before any more Americans lose their jobs” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), commenting on the Census findings. “That said, despite this adversity, the US solar industry’s long-term growth trajectories remain strong. Solar is entering new markets across the country each day, delivering communities well-paying jobs and billions of dollars in economic investment each year. The job growth outlined in this report in 29 states, many of them emerging solar markets, is a bright spot that we can build upon with smart policies in place.”

For additional information:

The Solar Foundation

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)

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