Sustainable Solar Jobs Growing at Faster Rate Than Other Industries

tsf-national-solar-jobs-census-2012_graphic_0The Solar Foundation (TSF), an independent nonprofit solar education and research organization, has released the full version of its third annual National Solar Jobs Census at the Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s Clean Energy Workforce Education Conference. The census found that more than 8,500 installation jobs were created in the past year, and continued industry wide growth is expected in 2013.

In early November, TSF announced that the Census found that the U.S. solar industry now employs 119,016 Americans, a figure which represents the addition of 13,872 workers and a 13.2 percent employment growth rate over the previous year. Since 2010, employment in the U.S. solar industry has grown 27 percent, or eight times faster than the overall economy during the same period when employment grew by 3.2 percent.

The complete report analyzes employment in the subsectors that make up the solar industry. Installation remained the largest subsector in terms of employment and added the most new jobs. Installers now employ 57,177 Americans, a 17.5 percent increase over the revised 2011 figure. Sales and distribution jobs experienced a 23.1 percent increase, now employing 16,005 Americans.

“The National Solar Jobs Census 2012 illustrates that the solar industry, as a whole, is a dependable job creator and that solar employers are confident about growth in 2013,” said Andrea Luecke, TSF Executive Director. “The growth by installers, especially at larger firms, signals that this subsector is heading toward a period of consolidation and maturation on par with other successful industries at this stage of the growth curve.”

Although manufacturing jobs decreased from a revised 2011 figure of 37,941 jobs to 29,742 in 2012, many downstream manufacturers are still reporting growth.

Solar employers in all subsectors responded with optimism about future job growth. They expect to grow by 17.2 percent over the next 12 months, representing an addition of 20,000 new jobs.

“Though we have found in the past that employment projections tend to overestimate job growth, the actual growth documented by the Census series has nonetheless been impressive. The fact that such a large proportion of employers anticipate adding jobs despite the difficulties facing the solar industry suggests that solar employment will continue its upward growth trajectory,” added Luecke.

The Solar Foundation and BW Research used an improved version of the Solar Energy Industries Association’s National Solar Database to refine the methods used in the Census and reach more employers. As a result, the solar employment figure for 2011 was revised up from 100,237 to 105,145. As in previous years, the survey examined employment along the solar value chain, including installation, sales and distribution, manufacturing, and other relevant subsectors and includes job numbers and growth rates. The figures in the report were derived from data collected from more than 1,000 solar company survey respondents, yielding a low overall margin of error of +/-1.5 percent.

The National Solar Jobs Census 2012 was conducted by The Solar Foundation and BW Research with technical assistance from Cornell University.

Image credit: Solar Foundation

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