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February 22, 2015

Oil's Loss, Solar's Gain: U.S. Solar Industry Adding Jobs

By Economy Watch

According to recent data, the solar industry in the United States added jobs at a rate that was almost twenty times faster than last year's average. A report published by the Solar Foundation discovered the creation of over 31,000 jobs in the 12 months beginning November 2013.

According to that same report, about 85% of those are brand new positions. Today, 173,807 people in the US have jobs related to the solar power industry. This number increased 87% over the last five years.

States Doing Well

Evidence suggests that the majority of the employment is in jobs that relate to solar installation. Solar manufacturing makes up 18.7% of the jobs, distribution and sales account for 11.6%, and project development makes up 8.7%. Some states, such as North Carolina, California, New York, and Massachusetts were solar industry leaders in 2013-14. However, the report says Virginia, Indiana, and Georgia also did well.

Government Favorites

The report found that solar installation beat the gas and oil industry as well as the gas extraction industry in 2014, creating 50% more jobs. Some believe this is due to heavy regulation in the fossil fuel industry. The report also suggests that jobs in the solar industry will continue to grow in 2015, estimated at over 36,000 next year. This is outstanding but it does not mean there will be enough jobs in the American work force to deal with all the new people entering the work force.

Report Results

The Solar Report found that around one in every seventy-eight jobs emerging in 2014 in some way connects to the solar industry. However, to make this ratio even lower, organizations and governments will need to continue to invest into solar development and research. It will also be important to reduce the cost of solar energy with better technology and economies of scale.

The Solar Foundation report also suggested that diversity increased. In 2014, about 22% of all solar workers were female, up from approximately 19% a year earlier. Furthermore, 6% were African-American, and 16% were Hispanic. Data suggests that the people installing solar power make about $24 an hour, and salespeople make even more than that, around $30 to $60.

Source: Economic Watch

The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of EconMatters.

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