Excerpt from “Solar Jobs Are Outpacing the U.S. Economy By a Longshot” by Julian Spector, published in CityLab.
In his 2016 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama made the case that job growth is once more on the rise. Nowhere is that more true than in the domestic solar energy industry, which grew nearly 12 times faster than the overall economy in 2015.
The solar industry expanded 20 percent over the previous year to employ a total of 209,000 people, according to a detailed census of solar jobs released this week by The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit. Those new solar opportunities amounted to a whopping 1.2 percent of all new jobs added to the U.S. economy last year.
“From a jobs perspective, the real selling point is that these are inherently local jobs that pay above the average national wage with an opportunity for mobility without significant amounts of training or education,” The Solar FoundationExecutive Director Andrea Luecke writes in an email.
The new data paint a picture of a headstrong industry sprinting forward, perhaps not sustainably so. More and more managers are reporting that it’s hard to find qualified applicants; overall, 24.2 percent of employers said it was “very difficult,” according to the census report. Solar job growth is expected to slow a bit, rising 14.7 percent as opposed to the 20 percent growth of this past year. But, Luecke notes, that projection was made before Congress extended the investment tax credit through 2021 in a massive year-end compromise. That newfound policy certainty will likely drive a higher rate of growth than the original projection.