Solar energy jobs have increased in 47 states and increased by 9% in the United States from 2020 to 2021, reaching a total of 255,037 solar workers, reports the independent nonprofit Interstate Renewable Energy Council (I RECORD).
According to the IREC annual report National Solar Jobs Census released today, this job growth occurred in a year of record solar installations. Overall, the solar industry added 21,563 jobs in 2021, with more than two-thirds of those new jobs (14,350) in installation and project development companies.
Larry Sherwood, President and CEO of IREC, said:
The U.S. solar industry has come back strong from the pandemic to expand the clean energy workforce in every region of the country.
The future remains uncertain in light of supply chain disruptions, trade issues and stalled federal policy in the first part of 2022. There is potential for unprecedented job growth in the years ahead if federal, state and local leaders take action to expand energy use and address climate change.
Over the past decade, solar employment in the United States has more than doubled, from 105,145 jobs in 2011 to 255,037 jobs in 2021. The largest growth has been in the installation and project development, where employment has more than tripled since 2011 to reach 168,960 jobs in 2021.
When it comes to total state-level solar jobs, California continues to lead with 75,712 jobs in 2021, followed by Florida (11,761 jobs), Massachusetts (10,548 jobs), New York (10,524 jobs) and Texas (10,346 jobs). These states are followed by Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Ohio, each with 7,000 to 9,000 jobs.
California also leads in the number of jobs added in 2021 (7,035 new jobs), followed by Massachusetts (+1,053 jobs), Nevada (+1,019 jobs) and Arizona (+932 jobs) . Other high-growth states were Ohio, North Carolina, New Jersey and Georgia, each with 800 to 900 new jobs.
The solar industry needs to up its game when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. The report found that women made up just under 30% of the solar workforce in 2021, while black employees made up 8% of the workforce, Latino or Hispanic workers made up 20% and Asian workers 9%. Less than a third of solar companies reported strategies to increase hiring of women, ethnic or racial minorities, or LGBTQ+.
And in a year with a tight job market, 89% of companies said they had difficulty finding qualified candidates, and 35% said it was “very difficult”. Only 31% of entry-level solar jobs require a bachelor’s degree, while 65% of companies offer on-the-job training.
According to the United States 2022 Energy and Jobs ReportClean energy jobs are growing across all sectors, and jobs in net-zero aligned areas accounted for around 40% of total energy sector jobs in 2021.
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Photo: “Solar Installation at Washington County Landfill (Closed)” by MN Pollution Control Agency is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.
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