On March 29, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), a nonpartisan business group, released its Clean Jobs America report, which stated that over 2.5 million Americans now work in the clean energy sector. The report ran a comprehensive analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics information, data from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and data collected from a survey of approximately 20,000 U.S. businesses to provide a detailed breakdown of clean energy jobs across the country. According to the report, energy efficiency leads the way with 1.9 million jobs followed by renewable energy with 413,000 jobs—including 299,000 for solar and 77,000 for wind. The U.S. clean energy sector now employs more workers than either the agricultural or real estate industries. Clearly, the clean energy jobs market is a significant and growing sector of the U.S. economy.
Indeed, clean energy has grown at an exponential rate in recent years. The solar industry exemplifies this, having added 115,000 jobs since 2010 (an increase of 123 percent over the past six years) according to the Solar Foundation, which makes solar companies twelve times more effective than the rest of the economy at creating jobs. E2 Director Bob Keefe partly attributes the increase in clean energy jobs across the country to government policies like state energy efficiency and renewable standards, as well as federal tax incentives. He said, “Smart policies helped jump-start this industry, and smart policies will keep these made-in-America jobs growing – and help our environment along the way.” The clean energy sector doesn’t only create jobs, it also saves money. The International Energy Agency estimates that energy efficiency efforts across 11 countries since the 1970s saved about $743 billion in 2011.
For the United States to increase the economic and environmental benefits offered by this growing sector of the economy, Keefe says lawmakers need to continue to promote and build on the recent policies that have helped clean energy jobs multiply in recent years. Dan Smolen, managing director of The Green Suits, a Virginia-based talent recruitment and career development firm, agreed, “Clean energy is no longer a niche business – it’s a big time job creator. Our lawmakers need to realize that – and put policies in place, right now, to help the sector grow even more.”
The strong job growth seen in in the clean energy sector is not unique to the United States. A 2015 report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) found that worldwide, 7.7 million people were employed by the renewable energy industry in 2014, an increase of 1.2 million from the previous year. The potential for further growth in the near future remains promising, as the Paris climate agreement and the Clean Power Plan are likely to create many opportunities for the clean energy sector. The Clean Jobs America report confirms that if the United States continues to invest in clean energy, it can bolster the country’s economy and benefit the environment at the same time.
Author: Ethan Anabel
- “2.5 Million Americans Work in Clean Energy," Environmental Entrepreneurs
- “Clean Energy Creates 2.5 Million Jobs in the U.S. with Energy Efficiency Paving the Way,” The Climate Group
- “2.5 Million Americans Work in Clean Energy,” Clean Technica
- “The 2.5 Million U.S. Clean Energy Jobs Report is a Big Deal,” Dan Smolen, The Green Suits.