Toward the end of 2007, US citizens, the US labor force, experienced the troubling onset of an economic downturn. We’re still in a condition of recovery. Through the whole recovery, though, we have been pushed to consider and reconsider our value systems, our modus operandi in terms of economic sustainability — as well as the fact that economic sustainability genuinely cannot be singled out from ecological sustainability.
It is time to leave those industries that lack ecological protection in the past, while still having a vibrant economy. Luckily, proof of proactive growth in these parallel efforts are shown in the solar industry, which is now over 119,000 jobs strong, according to comprehensive research from The Solar Foundation.
The Solar Foundation recently released a “First-Ever Solar Industry Jobs Numbers for All 50 States” report, on November 14th, 2012. The report noted that the US solar industry included about 119,000 employees.
From National Solar Jobs Census 2012 page: “The U.S. solar industry employs 119,016 Americans at present time. This figure represents the addition of 13,872 new solar workers and a 13.2 percent employment growth rate over the past 12 months. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the overall economy grew at a rate of 2.3 percent during the same period*, signifying that 1 in 230 jobs created nationally over the last year were created in the solar industry.”
Now, The Solar Foundation has also unveiled a State Solar Jobs Map, a fun and interactive map that provides a lot more detail about this country’s 119,000 or so solar jobs.
From the press release sent to CleanTechnica:
“The top ten states for solar jobs in 2012 were: California, Arizona, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New York, Texas, Michigan, and Ohio. In comparing solar employment estimates from today’s release with previous state figures that examined solar jobs in only a few states, six states – California, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Texas, Colorado, and New York – are in the top ten for the third year in a row. Many of the highest-ranked solar jobs states are also those with the greatest cumulative installed capacity in the nation.”
“Our greatly-anticipated State Solar Jobs Map provides the most credible glimpse to date of solar employment at the state level,” said Andrea Luecke, TSF Executive Director. “These jobs figures demonstrate that the U.S. solar industry remains a powerful source of job creation. In comparing our estimates with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we find that California now has more solar workers than actors and that there are more solar jobs in Texas than there are ranchers. Economies of scale are also making our industry more labor efficient, requiring only one-third the number of workers to install a megawatt of solar today as it did in 2010.”
Thanks to the Solar Foundation, you are able find out to what degree your state compares to other states in regards to solar jobs. You can also examine solar industry subsectors, state policies, jobs per capita, and even approximately how many homes are powered by solar in your state. “Thousands of data points from a combination of high-quality sources including TSF’s National Solar Jobs Census 2012 and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s National Solar Database were analyzed via a dual methodology to develop the jobs estimates that are the focus of this unprecedented effort.”
“The Solar Foundation’s map illustrates that solar is an economic engine throughout the US, creating jobs from coast to coast,” notes Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “Solar is the fastest-growing clean energy technology available today and employment in our industry has doubled over the past three years. Strong state solar policies, including renewable portfolio standards, third-party financing availability, and net metering have driven this tremendous state growth. Ensuring policy certainty throughout the U.S. will help to accelerate this trend and lead to more job creation where it’s most needed.”
The release goes on: “The map also demonstrates what has already been made apparent by global solar leaders such as Germany – that an abundant solar resource is not necessarily a prerequisite for a strong solar market. Only four states ranked in the top ten in terms of maximum solar resource are also top ten solar employment states. The remaining states (New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, and Ohio) all rank in the bottom 30% in the nation in terms of available solar resource. What all of the top ten solar jobs states do have in common, however, is a collection of policy tools designed to support renewable energy in general and solar in particular.”
Notably, much of the country’s solar power and job growth has come about due to falling solar technology costs. 31% of employers indicated in the Solar Jobs Census that “component price declines were the greatest driver of company growth.”
This comprehensive and conclusive report demonstrates that the solar industry, with unprecedented growth, is empowering change. This is a fast-growing group that is giving back to the community. And it is doing so in two ways, in job creation and protection of our health and resources. The helpful efforts are occurring across the nation.
These increases appear amidst, and despite, the economic downturn that shook the country so hard. Solar is consistent as a helping resource, and a way to help the labor market bounce back. And solar employers have confidence that these reports show increasing opportunity that suggests that job growth will continue. Is there another way besides renewable energy? There is no turning back to irresponsible industries now — we are already 5 minutes to midnight.
As Jane Weissman, executive director of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) said, while opening the 5th National Clean Energy Workforce Education Conference: “We’ve moved past the point when ‘green jobs’ was just a marketing term, a sound bite.”
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