It has been a challenging couple of years for the solar industry, including the threat of solar tariffs creating uncertainty over much of 2017 and then implementation of these damaging tariffs in 2018. But just like the sun keeps shining, our industry has gotten up every day and worked hard to keep building the clean energy economy despite these obstacles.
So it’s incredibly satisfying to see that recent data on solar jobs confirms it: our industry is continuing to support an incredible number of good, local jobs despite the setbacks – including increased solar employment in over half of the states in America and really strong growth projected in eight states in particular. Let’s dig into the numbers – and, if you’re an installer looking to grow your own business with affordable home solar financing, learn how Mosaic can help.
Solar Jobs Census: The Big Picture
First, the bad news: according to the annual Solar Jobs Census, America’s solar industry lost about 8,000 jobs overall in 2018. Thankfully, that’s much less than the 23,000 job losses predicted by the Solar Energy Industries Association after the imposition of solar tariffs, but it still shows that policy has an impact on jobs in any industry, including ours.
Here’s the good news: there are still 242,000 solar jobs nationwide, representing a net gain of over 100,000 new jobs created since 2013! That 70% growth is a lot more than the 9.13% job growth experienced by the U.S. economy overall during the same period. And, for some energy industry perspective, there are just over 167,000 people in coal power plants and coal mining combined according to the most recent data from the Department of Energy, which means the solar industry is already a much bigger source of jobs than the dirtiest fossil fuel.
The data from the past year isn’t all bad, either. In fact, despite the aggregate job losses at the national level, solar employment actually grew in 29 states in 2018 – over half of the country. Even more encouragingly, some of the biggest job gains were in states that have not been major solar markets historically but are starting to catch up in a big way. Major winners include:
- Florida, with 1,769 new solar jobs, for a total of 10,358
- Illinois, with 1,308 new solar jobs, for a total of 4,879
- Texas, with 739 new solar jobs, for a total of 9,612
- Ohio, with 644 new solar jobs, for a total of 7,162
- Washington State, with 612 new solar jobs, for a total of 4,045
Notably, the Solar Jobs Census also included data from Puerto Rico for the first time, with a count of 1,997 employed in the solar sector. While solar still provides a relatively small portion of the territory’s power, it has abundant solar resources similar to sunny Los Angeles, and efforts to rebuild its power grid in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria have highlighted the potential of solar (and battery storage) to help meet Puerto Ricans’ electricity needs more affordably and reliably than the fossil fueled status quo.
Solar Installers Set to Boom in 8 States
The good news for solar jobs doesn’t end with the Solar Jobs Census. Yahoo Finance recently delved into employment projections nationwide to come up with a fascinating map breaking down expectations for the fastest-growing jobs over the near term (through the end of 2019) in every single state in the country. In the process, they uncovered an extremely diverse range of hot jobs, including booming employment of animal trainers in Oregon, credit counselors in Michigan, and nuclear medicine technologists in Maryland.
However, one thing about the map really stands out: solar panel installer is expected to be the fastest growing job in 8 different states – more states than any other single job. Statisticians and wind turbine service technicians (another clean energy economy success story!) are the next most frequent, as the fastest-growing job in 4 states each.
Going beyond the fact that solar installer jobs are ready to boom in these states, it’s interesting to note where they’re located on the map: in virtually every region of America, including the west, southwest, southeast, midwest, and northeast. Check out this list:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- New Jersey
In the longer term, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that solar installer jobs nationwide will end up more than doubling from 2016-2026, with 105% growth. Importantly, BLS notes that these jobs typically require only a high school diploma or equivalent and provide a median annual income of $39,490, meaning these jobs aren’t just fast-growing – they provide solid work that is accessible to a broad swath of Americans.
Financing for a Growing Industry
Mosaic’s mission has always been about providing 100% clean energy for all, and also building a clean energy economy that benefits everybody. We’re proud to be a part of an industry that is making this vision come true in communities across America every day, and especially proud to provide simple, affordable financing solutions for customers of such a diverse ecosystem of solar installers – from local and regional small businesses to some of the largest national home solar companies.
If you’re a solar installer, of any size, click here to learn more – and keep up the awesome renewable energy-deploying, job-creating work!