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Solar industry employment on the rise, more growth expected

October 17th, 2011

solar FoundationThe “National Solar Jobs Census 2011: A Review of the U.S. Solar Workforce” found that hiring in the solar workforce is on the rise. More than 100,000 Americans are now employed in the solar industry.

“The solar industry has grown into a major economic force with more than 100,000 employees in the United States,” saidAndrea Luecke, executive director of The Solar Foundation.

“We expect even greater growth in the foreseeable future. But policymakers, workforce training providers, and the industry must work together to continue creating good jobs for skilled workers.”

California leads in solar employment

As of August 2011, the Census identified more than 17,198 solar employment sites and 100,237 solar jobs in all 50 states. The solar industry’s job growth rate of 6.8 percent is significantly higher than the 2 percent net job loss in fossil fuel power generation and the economy-wide expectation of 0.7 percent growth over the same period.

California continued to be the national leader in solar employment, with 25,575 workers. Rounding out the top 10 states areColorado, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, Texas, Oregon, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Colorado, Arizona,Florida, Oregon, New Jersey and Massachusetts showed the strongest growth rates from August 2010.

The Census also found that solar employers expect to increase the number of solar workers by 24 percent, representing nearly 24,000 net new jobs by August 2012. Over the next 12 months, nearly half of solar firms expect to add jobs.

“These survey responses merely reflect employers’ best estimates at expected new hiring, but it demonstrates a clear growth pattern for the industry and tremendous optimism by employers in the industry,” said Luecke. “Employers expressed similar optimism last year, but failed to meet their hiring expectations because of stalled legislative initiatives and continued policy uncertainty.”

The survey examined employment along the solar value chain and included data from more than 2,100 solar company survey respondents. The National Solar Jobs Census 2011 was conducted by The Solar Foundation and BW Research Partnership’s Green LMI Consulting division with technical assistance from Cornell University.

The full report and case studies are available at thesolarfoundation.org/research/national-solar-jobs-census-2011

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