Solar employment accounts for the largest share of workers in the electric power generation sector, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
In a new report “U.S. Energy and Employment Report,” the DOE explains that the traditional energy and energy efficiency sectors employs about 6.4 million people in the United States. In 2016, these sectors added over 300,000 net new jobs, roughly 14% of all jobs created in the nation.
Solar technologies, both PV and concentrating, employ almost 374,000 workers. As a result, solar accounted for 43% of the electric power generation workforce. This was followed by fossil fuel generation employment, which accounted for 22% of total electric power generation employment and supported 187,117 workers across coal, oil and natural gas generation technologies.
According to the DOE analysis, the labor market data, which was collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), likely underestimates the number of workers engaged in the domestic solar industry. In the utilities sector, the BLS labor market data does not count any jobs in the construction or other value chain industries for projects financed, owned or directed by utilities. Construction/installation represents the largest share of employment in the solar sector.
Solar employers reported that they expect to increase employment by 7% in 2017.
William Pentland is a Partner at Brookside Strategies, LLC, a consulting firm in Portland, Maine that focuses on issues in utility regulation, market strategy and energy policy.
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