National Solar Jobs Census

Posted by Content Coordinator on Monday, January 27th, 2014


1. Executive Summary

The National Solar Jobs Census 2013 is the fourth annual update of current employment and projected growth in the United States solar industry. Data for Census 2013 is derived from a statistically valid sampling and comprehensive survey of 15,437 employers throughout the nation, in industries ranging from manufacturing to construction and engineering to sales. The rapid pace of change in this industry has warranted annual updates that examine the size and scope of the solar labor force and employers’ perspectives on job growth and opportunities.

Since The Solar Foundation® first started tracking solar jobs, it has found that the industry has experienced steady and impressive job growth. Our research shows that solar industry employment has grown by an astonishing 53% – or nearly 50,000 new solar jobs – since we first started tracking them in 2010. Leading this growth are businesses in the installation sector, in which solar employment has grown by nearly 60% over the fouryear period covered by the Census series, representing more than 25,000 jobs created in the sector since 2010. With leading market analyses predicting continued growth in annual installed solar capacity, it is likely that the national solar workforce will continue to experience similar growth.

Solar Workers

U.S. solar companies continue hiring faster than the overall economy, and remain optimistic about future growth. As of November 2013, the solar industry has grown to 142,698 solar workers.  This is an increase of almost 20% over our Census 2012 findings, and represents a growth rate that is ten times faster than what the overall U.S. economy experienced during that same time period. Over the next 12 months, nearly 45% of solar establishments expect to add jobs, while fewer than 1.9% expect to cut workers, yielding an expected 15.6% growth in employment. This finding is especially relevant given that employment in the overall U.S. economy is projected to grow by only 1.4% over the next 12 months.

By comparing the job growth expectations from our multi-year research effort and from existing secondary sources, we can draw several important conclusions.

As of November 2013:

  • Solar jobs increased nearly 20% since the Fall of 2012, which is ten times the national average job growth rate. There are 142,698 solar workers in the United States, up from 119,016 in 2012. Not only did the industry exceed growth expectations, but the pace of hiring has quickened, at a rate 50% higher than last year, suggesting that the trajectory for growth is even stronger than previously thought.
  • Solar is a major source of new U.S. jobs. Seventy-seven percent of the nearly 24,000 new solar workers since September 2012 are new jobs (rather than existing positions that have added solar responsibilities), representing 18,211 new jobs created. Viewed a different way, one in every 142 new jobs in the U.S. were created by the solar industry, and each day the solar industry creates 56 new jobs across America.
  • The solar industry expects double digit job growth over the next 12 months. Solar employment is expected to grow by 15.6% over the next year, representing the addition of approximately 22,240 new solar workers. Forty-five percent of all solar establishments expect to have added solar employees by November 2014.Two-thirds of new solar hires are living-wage installation jobs. Installers added the most solar workers over the past year, growing by 22%, an increase of 12,500 workers. Installer jobs, which cannot be off-shored and earn an average of $23.63 per hour, are expected to increase by nearly 15,000 next year. This represents a 21% year-over-year growth rate.
  • Solar workers are diverse. Nineteen percent of all solar workers are women, representing 26,738 solar workers, and one in six solar workers is Latino or Hispanic. With 13,192 U.S. veterans working at solar establishments across the United States, the solar industry is also an important source of employment for returning veterans, exceeding the percentage of veterans in the broader U.S. workforce.
  • Solar jobs have increased over 50% since 2010. Since the first National Solar Jobs Census was conducted in 2010 by The Solar Foundation®, solar industry employment has grown by 53%, which translates to nearly 50,000 new jobs.
  • The solar industry supports hundreds of thousands of indirect and induced jobs. Census data include most of the direct jobs and many of the indirect jobs in the solar industry, with the exception of some indirect jobs in the component and materials supply chain. Those jobs, combined with induced impacts of the industry, support an additional 435,000 jobs, bringing the total employment impact for the U.S. solar industry to nearly 600,000.

Annual Solar Power Capacity Installations, 2005-2013

Download full version (PDF): National Solar Jobs Census 2013

About The Solar Foundation
“The Solar Foundation is an independent national 501(c)(3) nonprofit working to demonstrate the global benefits of solar energy through research and education. Founded in 1977 and based in Washington, DC, we are increasing the widespread adoption of solar energy and transforming the marketplace through our coordinated public education & outreach efforts, high-level data collection, and innovative research.”

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