Solar Industry Created Over 35,000 Living Wage Jobs in 2015
Solar now account for three times as many domestic jobs as the US coal mining industry
WASHINGTON, DC -- The GW Solar Institute, a research partner on the 2015 National Solar Jobs Census, joined The Solar Foundation and BW Research Partnership in announcing that the solar energy industry added over 35,000 new jobs between November 2014 and November 2015. This remarkable growth rate is almost 12 times the national average and accounts for 1 out every 83 new jobs created in the US since Solar Jobs Census 2014.
Surveying thousands of solar businesses across America, the Census found that the industry now supports over 208,000 jobs. Accounting for some additional jobs in the component and materials supply chain, as well as the industry’s induced impacts, would bring the total employment impact for the US solar industry to over 610,000 jobs. And while salaries range significantly between different solar industry occupations, the wages paid to solar workers are competitive with similar industries and offer many living-wage opportunities.
“The solar industry continues to support robust job growth,” said Amit Ronen, Director of the George Washington University Solar Institute. “Not only did solar create over one percent of all new US jobs last year, those hires were concentrated in the states where solar is booming primarily because of market friendly policies.”
Now in its sixth year, the annual National Solar Jobs Census is the nation’s only comprehensive solar jobs assessment and has provided valuable data on rapid changes to a very dynamic industry. Since the first Census in 2010, solar industry employment has grown by 123 percent resulting in over 115,000 new US jobs. Within a few months, the solar industry will also be providing three living wage jobs for each worker in the declining coal mining industry.
This year’s Census also provides some indication of the solar industry’s future. Survey respondents expect 2016 to be another strong year for solar and predicted that more than 30,000 jobs would be added over the next 12 months. While the census was conducted prior to the multiyear extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit, which will reduce pressure to complete projects in by 2016, robust solar investment and the job growth will still likely top 20,000. With solar system costs likely to continue to decline, due to scale, solar panel prices dropping 80 percent over the past five years, and innovative financing and business models, market analysts share the industry’s positive outlook for 2016.
“Solar’s remarkable job growth is closely tied to rapidly falling solar system installation costs,” said Ronen. While 2016 is expected to be another banner year for solar, push-back from utilities losing market share may dramatically slow solar job growth in some states over the next few years.”
The GW Solar Institute, a nonprofit solar policy research center, provided assistance and support in reviewing and validating report results and analysis for The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2015.
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Director, GW Solar Institute
The GW Solar Institute at the George Washington University (GW) identifies, creates, and shares pragmatic solutions to the public policy barriers preventing the adoption and scale of solar energy. Partnering with GW faculty and solar experts from around the world, the GW Solar Institute conducts research projects spanning a wide range of disciplines that include engineering, business, economics, law, and policy.
Leveraging its close proximity to key Washington institutions and relationships with influential stakeholders, the GW Solar Institute provides policymakers with objective, strategic, and accessible analysis on the many complex issues surrounding solar energy. The GW Solar Institute also works with a rising generation eager to contribute to a clean energy economy, providing educational opportunities and training to GW’s diverse student body. For more information please visit: solar.gwu.edu