National Solar Jobs Census 2016

The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2016 is the seventh annual edition of current employment, trends, and projected growth in the U.S. solar industry. To keep pace with the industry’s rapid transformation, The Solar Foundation conducts annual employer surveys of the domestic solar labor force and gathers perspectives on job growth and future opportunities.

The results from Census 2016 are based on rigorous survey efforts that include more than 500,000 telephone calls and over 60,000 emails to known and potential energy establishments across the United States, resulting in a total of 3,888 full completions for establishments involved in solar activity in the U.S. Unlike economic impact models that generate employment estimates based on economic data or jobs-per-megawatt (or jobs-per-dollar) assumptions, the National Solar Jobs Census series provides statistically valid and current data gathered from actual employers.

This year’s Census found that the solar industry continues to outpace most other sectors of the economy, adding workers at a rate nearly 17 times faster than the overall economy and accounting for 2% of all jobs created in the U.S. over the past year. The Solar Foundation’s long-term research shows that solar industry employment has grown by 178% since 2010, resulting in over 166,575 new domestic living-wage jobs.

As of November 2016, the solar industry employs 260,077 solar workers, representing a growth rate of 24.5% since November 2015. Meanwhile, U.S. businesses added just over 2.07 million jobs at an annual growth rate of 1.45%.1 Over the next 12 months, surveyed employers expect to see total employment in the solar industry increase by 10%—10 times faster than the overall economy is expected to grow—to approximately 286,000 solar workers.