One of the greatest side benefits of climate action is that it creates a lot of jobs. Not only that — it creates a lot of well paying jobs. Solar installers, solar panel manufacturers, wind turbine technicians, electric vehicle engineers, electrical engineers, and the list goes on. But how many jobs? And how well do they pay? E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), and the Clean Energy Leadership Institute (CELI) have some answers.
BW Research analyzed the topic after those organizations commissioned a study on the matter. Specifically, BW Research looked into these sectors of the clean energy (though, we prefer to call it cleantech) industry: renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, clean fuels, clean vehicles, and grid modernization and storage.
The research team dove into 15 specific occupations and how they compare to similar occupations in other industries, with one of the conclusions being that cleantech jobs pay better. In simpler terms, blue-collar workers can make more money with a transition from the old-energy economy to the clean-energy economy.
“According to the report, workers in renewable energy, energy efficiency, grid modernization and storage, clean fuels and clean vehicles earned a median hourly wage of $23.89 in 2019 compared with the national median wage of $19.14,” E2 shares.
“In addition, jobs in many clean energy sectors are more likely to be unionized and come with health care and retirement benefits than the rest of the private sector, the analysis shows.”
The researchers delved into these matters on a state level, examining wages in 50 states as well as Washington, D.C.
The Clean Jobs, Better Jobs report comes out right in time to debunk the myths put out there by Donald Trump that solar and wind power aren’t competitive (completely untrue), don’t offer the same or better economic opportunities for people as fossil fuel energy industries (clearly untrue), and are not critical to the future of our society.
Unsurprisingly, under Donald Trump, who recently claimed in a widely viewed presidential debate that solar wasn’t up to the job yet and that wind turbines aren’t actually environmentally friendly, some of the core underlying research this report used is no longer being collected.
“The analysis expands on data from the 2020 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) produced by the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) in partnership with the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), using data collected and analyzed by the BW Research Partnership. The report was released in March 2020 and is available at www.usenergyjobs.org. E2 is a partner on the USEER, the fifth installment of the energy survey first released by the Department of Energy in 2016 and subsequently abandoned under the Trump administration. Clean energy jobs have grown every year since the first report was released in 2016.”
Like with COVID testing, if you simply don’t collect data, you don’t have to worry about findings that don’t suit your interests. There’s no COVID outbreak if there’s no testing. There’s no proof clean energy jobs are booming and pay well if you don’t collect data on these jobs.
Here are some more interesting facts from the report:
- “At the end of 2019, more than 3.3 million Americans worked in clean energy occupations — renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean vehicles and fuels.”
- “That is more Americans who worked in clean energy than worked as schoolteachers, real estate agents, farmers or bankers — and nearly three times the number of Americans that work in fossil fuel companies.”
- “Jobs in coal, natural gas and petroleum fuels pay about $24.37 an hour, for instance, while jobs in solar and wind pay about $24.85 an hour. Similarly, jobs in energy efficiency — the biggest part of America’s energy sector — come with median salaries of about $24.44.”
- “Over 99 percent of U.S. counties were home to clean energy jobs at the end of
- “From March 2020 through August 2020, clean energy sector employment levels declined by 14 percent compared to pre-COVID-19 levels — a net loss of nearly 500,000 jobs. Energy efficiency jobs were hit the hardest, with more than 345,000 workers in energy efficiency-related occupations filing for unemployment, as buildings and homes were made off limits due to social distancing and non-essential work orders. Other sectors experienced heavy job losses as well. Nearly 78,000 renewable energy workers filed for unemployment through August, as did about 35,000 clean vehicles workers and nearly 22,000 Americans who work in grid and storage related companies.”
- “When it came to job losses in clean energy, Hispanic and Latino workers suffered the most. The clean energy industry is about 14 percent Hispanic or Latino, but an estimated 25 percent of the job losses in the clean energy industry were Hispanic or Latino workers. All non-white racial and ethnic minorities constitute about 37 percent of the clean energy industry while representing 31 percent of job losses. These figures indicate more needs to be done to address racial inequities in clean energy and the broader economy.”
Much more information can be found in the report.