National Solar Jobs Census 2019

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The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2019 is the tenth annual report on current employment and workforce trends in the U.S. solar industry, nationwide and state by state. Based on a rigorous survey of U.S. companies, this report represents the most comprehensive analysis of solar labor market trends in the United States.

As of November 2019, the solar industry employs nearly 250,000 solar workers, representing a growth of 2.3%, or 5,643 jobs, since 2018. This growth contrasts with job losses in 2017 and 2018 but continues the seven years of well-documented growth from 2010 to 2016. Annual data from the National Solar Jobs Census has found that since 2010, solar employment has grown 167%, from just over 93,000 to 249,983 jobs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

The most important reason for the growth in solar jobs from 2018 to 2019 was a significant increase in the capacity of solar installations over the previous year. This industry expansion can be attributed to several factors, including:

  • Declining solar costs. As solar installation costs continue to decline, more projects provide favorable returns on investment, even in states with lower electricity rates.
  • The phaseout of the federal investment tax credit. Since 2019 was the last year the full 30% investment tax credit was available, there was a rush to install solar, especially in the residential solar market segment which has a shorter development cycle.
  • Waning concerns about the impacts of Section 201 tariffs. The February 2018 tariffs on solar cells and modules depressed 2018 solar jobs. By 2019, the impact had been largely mitigated by lower global prices on these components.

Some key findings:

  • American solar jobs have increased 167% over the past decade, adding 156,000 jobs. In the five-year period between 2014 and 2019, solar employment increased 44%, five times faster than job growth in the overall U.S. economy.
  • Solar jobs increased in 31 states in 2019. Florida led the nation for the number of jobs added, followed by Georgia, Utah, New York, and Texas.
  • Nationwide, an additional 94,549 workers spend some portion of their time on solar-related work, for a total of 344,532 workers who spend all or part of their time in solar.
  • About two-thirds of U.S. solar workers (about 162,000) are employed at installation and project development firms. Others work in manufacturing, operations & maintenance, sales, and miscellaneous categories.
  • Women make up 26% of the solar workforce. Latino/Hispanic workers make up 17%, Asian workers make up 9%, and black or African American workers make up 6%. Eight percent of solar workers are military veterans.

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