Quantcast

Solar Is Creating Jobs Nearly 20 Times Faster Than Overall U.S. Economy

Business

All those senators currently debating in Washington D.C., calling the Keystone XL pipeline approval bill an urgent "jobs creation bill," are looking for jobs in all the wrong places.

Solar installation alone added more jobs in 2014 than both the oil and natural gas sectors—jobs that can't be outsourced. Photo credit: The Solar Project

They should be perusing the National Solar Jobs Census 2014, the fifth annual such report compiled by the nonprofit Solar Foundation. What they'd find there puts the pipeline project to shame. Despite attacks on clean, renewable energy around the country, creating uncertainty in the sector,  job creation grew dramatically. It outperformed the slowly improving U.S. economy, creating jobs at nearly 20 times the rate of the overall economy.

Last year, jobs in solar increased by 21.8 percent, adding up to 31,000 new jobs in 2014 and bringing the total number of solar-related jobs in the U.S. to 173,800. That's an increase of 86 percent since 2010. The vast majority—approximately 157,500— work 100 percent on solar activities.

“The solar industry has once again proven to be a powerful engine of economic growth and job creation,” said The Solar Foundation's president and executive director Andrea Luecke. “Our Census findings show that one out of every 78 new jobs created in the U.S. over the past 12 months was created by the solar industry—nearly 1.3 percent of all jobs. It also shows for the fifth consecutive year, the solar industry is attracting highly skilled, well-paid professionals. That growth is putting people back to work and strengthening our nation’s economy.”

And despite attacks in states like Ohio, which froze its renewable energy standards last June and is talking about permanently eliminating them, The Solar Foundation projects that growth will continue. Its employer survey, which collected data from more than 7,600 U.S. businesses, found that the next year solar is likely to see a similar increase of almost 21 percent, bringing the total number of workers in the industry to 210,060.

“Demand for clean renewable power is growing," said Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. “Solar exists at the critical intersection between energy, the economy and the environment. As the nation’s fastest growing energy source, solar is adding thousands of new jobs each year. Its growth will almost surely continue to be robust in coming years.”

The survey also found that installation remains the largest source of domestic solar employment growth, more than doubling since 2010 and that those workers are more and more diverse, with more African-Americans, Hispanics, women and veterans than in the 2013 report. Solar installation jobs have already blown past employment in the shrinking coal industry, which is now down to only 93,185 jobs. And while the oil and gas pipeline construction and extraction added 19,217 jobs in 2014, the solar installation sector created almost 50 percent more jobs.

Those jobs are that can't be outsourced, won't disappear in two years like the Keystone XL construction jobs and don't come with negative health impacts or harmful impacts on the environment.

“The tremendous growth in the solar industry last year is further evidence that we can clean our air and cut climate pollution while also growing the economy,” said former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "The more data we have about the renewable energy industry, the better positioned policymakers and investors will be to make informed decisions. The Solar Jobs Census has the potential to help make that possible."

And with jobs in the wind sector increasing  rapidly as well, supporting fossil fuel industries at the expense of renewables seems like bad economic as well as bad environmental policy.

“Americans want greater clean energy deployment, and conventional electricity generation is among the largest sources of air and water pollution in the U.S.," said Lyndon Rive, CEO of Solar City, the largest solar employer in the U.S. “As the Census underscores, solar is providing a tremendous boost to our economy while meeting public demand for choice, competition and cleaner, more affordable energy.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Top 10 States Leading the U.S. in Solar Energy Growth

25 Top Companies Investing in Solar

The World Is Going Solar

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Myrtle warbler. Gillfoto / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Bird watching in the U.S. may be a lot harder than it once was, since bird populations are dropping off in droves, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announces the co-founding of The Climate Pledge at the National Press Club on Sept. 19 in Washington, DC. Paul Morigi / Getty Images for Amazon

The day before over 1,500 Amazon.com employees planned a walkout to participate in today's global climate strike, CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled a sweeping plan for the retail and media giant to be carbon neutral by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris agreement schedule.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Winona LaDuke

For the past seven years, the Anishinaabe people have been facing the largest tar sands pipeline project in North America. We still are. In these dying moments of the fossil fuel industry, Water Protectors stand, prepared for yet another battle for the water, wild rice and future of all. We face Enbridge, the largest pipeline company in North America, and the third largest corporation in Canada. We face it unafraid and eyes wide open, for indeed we see the future.

Read More Show Less
The climate crisis often intensifies systems of oppression. Rieko Honma / Stone / Getty Images Plus

By Mara Dolan

We see the effects of the climate crisis all around us in hurricanes, droughts, wildfires, and rising sea levels, but our proximity to these things, and how deeply our lives are changed by them, are not the same for everyone. Frontline groups have been leading the fight for environmental and climate justice for centuries and understand the critical connections between the climate crisis and racial justice, economic justice, migrant justice, and gender justice. Our personal experiences with climate change are shaped by our experiences with race, gender, and class, as the climate crisis often intensifies these systems of oppression.

Read More Show Less
Lana Del Rey: "call her Doris Doomsday." Darren Gerrish / BFC / Getty Images Entertainment

By Emer McHugh

Popular music has, and always will be, informed by the political and social contexts from which it emerges.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Naveena Sadasivam

It was early in the morning last Thursday, and Jonathan Butler was standing on the Fred Hartman Bridge, helping 11 fellow Greenpeace activists rappel down and suspend themselves over the Houston Ship Channel. The protesters dangled in the air most of the day, shutting down a part of one of the country's largest ports for oil.

Read More Show Less
We already have a realistic solution in the Green New Deal—we just lack the political will. JARED RODRIGUEZ / TRUTHOUT

By C.J. Polychroniou

Climate change is by far the most serious crisis facing the world today. At stake is the future of civilization as we know it. Yet, both public awareness and government action lag way behind what's needed to avert a climate change catastrophe. In the interview below, Noam Chomsky and Robert Pollin discuss the challenges ahead and what needs to be done.

Read More Show Less
FDA

Food manufacturer General Mills issued a voluntary recall of more than 600,000 pounds, or about 120,000 bags, of Gold Medal Unbleached All Purpose Flour this week after a sample tested positive for a bacteria strain known to cause illness.

Read More Show Less