Clean energy jobs surged nearly 11% in the second half of 2020 to employ more than 3 million Americans across every state and nearly every county, according to the sixth Clean Jobs America report from E2.
Like most of the economy, clean energy was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn in 2020. At one point more than 600,000 clean energy workers had filed for unemployment, but the sector rebounded strongly after May to recover about half of those jobs to finish the year down 307,000 clean energy workers. The decline in total clean energy employment was the first recorded since E2 began producing its annual Clean Jobs America reports in 2016.
“Despite last year’s unprecedented decline, what the data shows is that clean energy is a job creator in every state and nearly every county in America,” said Bob Keefe, executive director of E2. “The message to members of Congress is that if you want these good paying jobs in your backyard, you need to support the policies on the table that are primed to turbocharge clean energy and keep it growing.”
According to the analysis, energy efficiency jobs saw the biggest drop, declining about 11% over the year. Solar employment fell, driven by declines in residential solar sales and installation which were hit early in the pandemic and did not fully recover despite growth in the second part of the year. Overall, renewable energy jobs fell by nearly 6 percent.
Clean energy sectors also saw significant declines in 2020, including renewable energy (6%), grid and storage (7%) and clean fuels (7%). Renewables account for 492,891 jobs in the United States, according to the analysis.
Several clean energy sectors did see job gains in 2020, including wind energy which added about 2,000 jobs. But electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle industries added about 12,200 jobs.
Despite the setbacks, clean energy jobs rebounded quicker than overall nationwide workforce, according to the analysis. Clean energy jobs grew about 11% since May 2020, compared to less than 9% growth in the national workforce during the same period.
“The data show that while clean energy employment took a significant hit as a result of the pandemic, it has rebounded more quickly than many other sectors,” said Phil Jordan, vice president of BW Research Partnership, which performs the annual analysis for E2. “Today’s report underscores the importance of tracking energy employment over time and demonstrates the importance of data-driven policy making to create jobs where they are needed most.”
Other findings from the report:
California, Texas and New York continue to lead the Unite States in total clean energy jobs. Eight states were home to more than 100,000 clean energy workers
Jobs involved in clean energy projects account for 19% of all construction jobs 5% of all wholesale trade jobs and 4% of all manufacturing jobs.
Georgia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Michigan have seen the fastest clean energy job growth since unemployment peaked in May, with all four states experiencing growth of more than 20% from June to the end of the year.
North Carolina, Michigan and Texas lead the nation in rural clean energy jobs, each with more than 20,000 clean energy jobs located outside of major metropolitan areas. In Vermont, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming, the majority of clean energy jobs were in rural areas.