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Report: 1 in 50 new U.S. jobs came from solar last year

Lucas Mearian | Feb. 8, 2017
Employment in the industry rose in 44 states and is expected to continue growing

In 2016, the five states with the most solar jobs were California, Massachusetts, Texas, Nevada, and Florida.

Solar Job Census graphic The Solar Foundation

In California, solar jobs increased 32% year-over-year in 2016 -- from 75,598 in 2015 to 100,050 last year. Solar industry jobs now represent one of every 132 jobs in that state, the report claimed.

"California continues to lead all states in installed capacity, but its dominant market share is eroding as other states ramp up development," the report said. "For 2016, California is expected to represent 34% of the nation's installation activity, down from a 44% share in 2015."

Texas, which represents the third largest number of solar jobs in nation, grew its workforce by 34% in 2016. Last year, Texas added 2,366 solar industry workers to reach 9,396 jobs in the state, according to the National Solar Jobs Census. Solar jobs in Texas have increased 127% from 2013 to 2016.

"Texas is seeing exciting solar industry growth, and the annual census confirms our jobs impact," Charlie Hemmeline, executive director of the Texas Solar Power Association (TSPA), said in a statement. "We're eager to dig deeper into detailed state results when they become available, which we expect to show more good news in the Texas solar job market, including a large growth in part-time solar workers."

Even states that weren't in the top five for solar power production saw a significant increase in jobs from that industry, according to the report. For example, South Carolina added more than 1,000 solar jobs in 2016. According to the report, the industry employed 1,764 in 2015; that number jumped to 2,772 in 2016, faster than any other state in the Southeast.

Solar panels The Solar Foundation

Solar panels make use of pasture lands.

"Solar jobs are on the rise in South Carolina -- if you have spent time in the state recently, you can see the panels on roofs and hear people talk about increasing their energy security and independence by investing in solar," Gresham Barrett, former South Carolina congressman and founder of the Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition, said in a statement. "We need to continue to promote free market principles to support a growing solar industry in the state, which is creating well-paying local jobs that cannot be outsourced."

This year's Solar Jobs Census was part of the U.S. Department of Energy's collection effort that included more than 500,000 telephone calls and more than 60,000 emails to energy companies in the U.S. between October and November.

The broader 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report found that "traditional energy and energy efficiency market sectors employ about 6.4 million Americans." That market increased in 2016 by just under 5%, adding over 300,000 net new jobs, roughly 14% of all jobs created in the country.


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