U.S. solar companies continue hiring faster than the overall economy, and remain optimistic about future growth, according to fourth annual National Solar Jobs Census released by The Solar Foundation.
As of November 2013, the solar industry has grown to 142,698 solar workers. This is an increase of almost 20% more than our 2012 findings and represents a growth rate that is 10 times faster than what the overall U.S. economy experienced during that same time period.
Over the next 12 months, nearly 45% of solar establishments expect to add jobs, while fewer than 1.9% expect to cut workers, yielding an expected 15.6% growth in employment. This finding is especially relevant given that employment in the overall U.S. economy is projected to grow by only 1.4% over the next 12 months.
By comparing the job growth expectations from our multi-year research effort and from existing secondary sources, we can draw several important conclusions.
As of November 2013:
- Solar jobs increased nearly 20% since the Fall of 2012, which is ten times the national average job growth rate.3 There are 142,698 solar workers in the United States, up from 119,016 in 2012. Not only did the industry exceed growth expectations, but the pace of hiring has quickened, at a rate 50% higher than last year, suggesting that the trajectory for growth is even stronger than previously thought.
- Solar is a major source of new U.S. jobs. Seventy-seven percent of the nearly 24,000 new solar workers since September 2012 are new jobs (rather than existing positions that have added solar responsibilities), representing 18,211 new jobs created. Viewed a different way, one in every 142 new jobs in the U.S. were created by the solar industry, and each day the solar industry creates 56 new jobs across America.
- The solar industry expects double digit job growth over the next 12 months.
- Solar employment is expected to grow by 15.6% over the next year, representing the addition of approximately 22,240 new solar workers. Forty-five percent of all solar establishments expect to have added solar employees by November.
- Two-thirds of new solar hires are living-wage installation jobs. Installers added the most solar workers over the past year, growing by 22%, an increase of 12,500 workers. Installer jobs, which cannot be off-shored and earn an average of $23.63 per hour, are expected to increase by nearly 15,000 next year. This represents a 21% year-over-year growth rate.
- Solar workers are diverse. Nineteen percent of all solar workers are women, representing 26,738 solar workers, and one in six solar workers is Latino or Hispanic. With 13,192 U.S. veterans working at solar establishments across the United States, the solar industry is also an important source of employment for returning veterans, exceeding the percentage of veterans in the broader U.S. workforce.
- Solar jobs have increased over 50% since 2010. Since the first National Solar Jobs Census was conducted in 2010 by The Solar Foundation, solar industry employment has grown by 53%, which translates to nearly 50,000 new jobs.
- The solar industry supports hundreds of thousands of indirect and induced jobs. Census data include most of the direct jobs and many of the indirect jobs in the solar industry, with the exception of some indirect jobs in the component and materials supply chain. Those jobs, combined with induced impacts of the industry, support an additional 435,000 jobs, bringing the total employment impact for the U.S. solar industry to nearly 600,000.
The results continue to illustrate that the solar industry is a strong and growing part of the U.S. economy and responsible for thousands of jobs across every state in the nation. Continued growth in installed capacity clearly corresponds with strong job creation.
This report includes up-to-date information on the solar industry, quantifying employment growth since last year’s study and trends since Census 2010. The research findings also provide stakeholders with fresh information on the potential for further growth and the factors that are likely to impact the industry over the coming year. As with the previous Census studies, this report includes information about all types of companies engaged in the analysis, research and development, production, sale, installation, and use of all solar technologies – ranging from photovoltaics (PV), to concentrating solar power (CSP), to solar water heating systems for the residential, commercial, industrial, and utility market segments.
These findings are based on rigorous survey efforts that include 73,796 telephone calls and over 11,000 emails to potential solar establishments across the United States, resulting in a maximum margin of error for employment related questions of +/-1.3%. Unlike economic impact models that generate employment estimates based on economic data (such as company revenue) or jobs-per-megawatt (or jobs-per-dollar) assumptions, the National Solar Jobs Census series provides statistically valid and current data gathered from actual employers.