The Solar Foundation (TSF) has reported in its third annual National Solar Jobs Census that the U.S. solar industry employs 119,016 people, an increase of 13.2 percent from the previous year. The solar job census measured solar industry growth between September 2011 to September 2012. Based on 2012 data collection, TSF also revised the 2011 total jobs number from 100,237 to 105,145. According to TSF, during the same period, employment in the overall economy only grew at a rate of 2.3 percent, while the fossil fuel electric generation industry shed 3,857 jobs or nearly 4 percent of its workforce.
“The solar industry has grown at significantly higher rates than most other industries in the past several years, making it one of the foremost creators of new jobs in the United States,” said Andrea Luecke, TSF Executive Director. “Our census findings indicate that these new jobs are highly skilled in nature, including solar installation, sales, marketing and software development. These new solar industry jobs are sustainable, cannot be outsourced and play a critical role in our country’s economic recovery.”
There were several drivers of employment growth according to the census. Nearly one third of employers who responded to the survey cited the continued decline in component prices as the primary driver. State legislation enacting Renewable Portfolio Standards or authorizing third-party system ownership and federal tax incentives were other leading drivers.
“The National Solar Jobs Census 2012 provides a solid point of reference about solar industry employment that wasn’t available three years ago,” said Philip Jordan, Chief Business Officer at BW Research Partnership. “The Solar Foundation’s research is allowing training providers, job seekers and the public to understand the solar job market with a high degree of confidence.”
Danny Kennedy, co-founder and president of Sungevity and author of Rooftop Revolution, noted that the finds validate the continued boom in business growth the industry has experienced during the past year. During 2012, Sungevity expanded to six new states and the company created 100 new direct and indirect jobs. “Solar power is an American invention and it is exciting to see it become one of the fastest growing job engines in America,” added Kennedy.
The full report will be presented at the Clean Energy Workforce Education Conference on November 14th in Albany, New York.