U.S. solar industry jobs have jumped 167% in the last decade, from just over 93,000 jobs in 2010, to 249,983 jobs in 2019, according to the 10th annual “National Solar Jobs Census,” Kallanish Energy reports.
The latest census, produced yearly by the nonprofit The Solar Foundation, found last year’s nearly 250,000-worker total was an increase of 5,643 jobs (2.31%) from 2018. The latter was the second of two years in which the solar industry lost jobs.
The highwater mark in the last 10 years for solar industry jobs was in 2016, when 260,077 personnel were employed. That total then dropped to 250,271 in 2017, and 244,340 in 2018, the Solar Foundation reported. The 2018 and 2019 censuses included Puerto Rico.
Niche to mainstream
“In just 10 years, despite facing many challenges, solar has grown from a niche product to a mainstream energy source that provides a quarter of a million high-quality jobs,” said Andrea Luecke, president and executive director of The Solar Foundation.
This job growth reflects the plummeting cost of solar technologies and its increased popularity among individuals, businesses, and electric utilities, according to The Solar Foundation.
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, it said.
Solar jobs increased in 31 states in 2019. The state with the most jobs added in 2019 was Florida, followed by Georgia, Utah, New York state, Texas, Illinois, and Virginia.
Most job gains in installation and development
Most of the solar job gains in 2019 were in installation and project development, which added about 7,000 jobs in 2019. Overall, this industry sector employs 162,126 solar workers (nearly two-thirds of the 249,983 total), and about 16,000 of these workers focus on battery storage. The solar manufacturing sector grew by just under 700 jobs, to a total of 34,423.
Florida has the second-highest number of solar jobs nationwide, growing 18% in 2019, to 12,202 solar workers. Georgia solar jobs increased by 30%, the highest rate of growth in all 50 states, to 4,798 jobs. South Carolina’s solar workforce was up 11%, to 3,307 total jobs, and Maryland was up 8%, to 4,854 jobs.
California leads the way with 74,255 solar workers, although the state saw a 3.4% drop in solar jobs in 2019 compared to 2018.
The “National Solar Jobs Census” is based on a survey of solar establishments conducted between October and November 2019. The survey was administered to 2,766 establishments, of which 1,859 completed or substantially completed the survey. The survey’s margin of error is 2.27%.
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