The solar industry continues to grow at record-breaking levels. Not only are more businesses going solar than ever, solar employment is on the rise, with the industry providing opportunities for over 200,000 workers in all 50 states and creating jobs at a rate 12 times higher than the overall U.S. economy, according to the Solar Foundation's National Solar Jobs Census 2015. The U.S. solar workforce has grown by more than 20% for three consecutive years. In the past six years, solar industry employment has grown by 123%, with one out of every 83 new jobs created in the U.S. in the last year being in the solar industry (representing 1.2% of all new jobs).
This means that the solar workforce is now larger than some well-established fossil fuel generation sectors. In 2015, the oil and gas extraction industries lost 13,800 jobs, now employing less than 130,000 workers; solar is also three times larger than the coal-mining industry, which employs just under 68,000 workers.
This growth in solar employment can be credited to the increased demand for solar energy systems over the last decade. In 2010, the year of the first Solar Jobs Census, the U.S. had only 929 MW of solar capacity nationwide. In 2015, over 7,430 MW were installed--eight times more!
“The U.S. solar power industry continues to grow and create jobs, providing further evidence that promoting economic growth and fighting climate change can go hand-in-hand." - Michael Bloomberg
Over the next year, solar companies are expected to add a total of 30,000 new solar workers (a 14.7% employment growth over 2015, 13 times the projected 1.1% increase in employment in the overall U.S. economy over the same period). With the recent extension of the federal income tax credit (ITC), it looks like the national solar workforce will continue to grow at a rapid pace. The future is bright for solar!