US solar industry workers employed in 2020 dropped by 6.7 percent compared to 2019

The U.S. solar industry employed 231,474 workers in 2020, a 6.7 percent drop from 2019 due to pandemic restrictions and increased labor productivity, according to the National Solar Jobs Census 2020 released by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), The Solar Foundation, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), and BW Research. The drop in jobs was largely split evenly among states as many companies have not yet reached pre-pandemic employment levels.
Installation and construction-related employment continued to be the largest segment in the industry, representing 67 percent of all jobs. Of all installation jobs, 55 percent were residential; 18 percent were commercial; 8 percent community solar and 19 percent were utility-scale.
Workers in manufacturing jobs represented 14 percent of all American industry employment, while sales and distribution and operations and maintenance represented 11 percent and 4 percent of all jobs, respectively. The ‘other’ category, comprised of workers in fields like finance, legal, research, advocacy and communications, makes up 4 percent of all U.S. solar workers. Regarding the solar workforce diversity, women and minority demographic groups has improved significantly since 2015, including a 39 percent increase for women, 92 percent increase for Hispanic or Latino workers, 18 percent increase for Asian American and Pacific Islander workers, and a 73 percent increase for Black or African American workers, says SEIA.
The new figures come as lawmakers debate infrastructure spending that could boost the solar workforce with hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next decade. SEIA expects that the solar industry will need to reach more than 900,000 workers to reach President Biden’s 2035 clean energy target. »The solar industry continues to support hundreds of thousands of jobs across all 50 states, and even during a pandemic, our companies largely were able to keep workers on the job,« said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA. »We now have an opportunity to quadruple our workforce, adding diversity and supporting underserved communities by taking policy steps that incentivize solar and storage deployment and provide long-term certainty for solar businesses.«

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