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US solar jobs have risen 167% since 2010, new data shows



Anmar Frangoul


  • The 2019 numbers represent a boost for the sector, which saw job losses in both 2017 and 2018.
  • When it comes to jobs by state, California leads the way with 74,255 workers.  

The solar industry in the U.S. employed 249,983 people in 2019, a 2.3% increase compared to the previous year, according to The Solar Foundation’s “National Solar Jobs Census.”

The 2019 numbers represent a small boon for the industry, which saw job losses in both 2017 and 2018. The numbers for 2018 and 2019 include data from Puerto Rico.

In a statement Wednesday, The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit organization, said that jobs in the industry had grown by 167% since the publication of the first census for 2010.

When it comes to jobs by state, California leads the way with 74,255 workers, although the Golden State did see a 3.4% drop in solar jobs compared to 2018. Overall, solar jobs grew in 31 states last year.

Breaking the census down, the 249,983 figure refers to people who spent “the majority of their time on solar-related activities.” If people who spent “some portion of their time” on solar-related work are included, then the total number of workers grows to 344,532.

“In just ten years, despite facing many challenges, solar has grown from a niche product to a mainstream energy source that provides a quarter of a million high-quality jobs,” Andrea Luecke, The Solar Foundation’s president and executive director, said in a statement.

“This is great news, but it’s only a fraction of what can be accomplished if we are truly committed to solving the climate crisis and expanding the use of solar and storage,” Luecke added. “It’s past time for us to unite as a nation and create even more jobs by harnessing the power of the sun.”

To put the solar figures in some sort of context, the American Wind Energy Association says it represents more than 114,000 jobs in the U.S.

According to a 2017 report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, produced for the American Petroleum Institute, 10.3 million full and part-time jobs in the U.S. were supported by the natural gas and oil industry in 2015.

The Solar Foundation said its census was based on a survey of “solar establishments” carried out between October and November 2019. Around 66,900 phone calls were made, with more than 47,000 emails sent.

Its survey was sent to “2,766 establishments, of which 1,859 completed or substantially completed the survey.” The Solar Foundation said that this gave a margin of error of 2.27% for the jobs data.

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