The Solar Workforce Saw Considerable Growth In 2016

The Solar Foundation recently released its National Solar Jobs Census 2016 which detailed some impressive workforce numbers.

2016 was another banner year for the solar industry. The industry has proven once again that it is a steadily growing source of well-respected and high-paying jobs.
solar pv installations
Let’s consider some notable highlights from the report –

  • There were more than 51,000 workers added to the solar industry bringing the total number to 260,077.
  • One out of every 50 jobs added in the U.S. in 2016 was a solar job.
  • For the past 4 years, solar jobs have increased 20 percent and tripled since 2010.
  • The solar industry created jobs 17 time faster than the rest of the economy. Median pay for these jobs is $26/hour.
  • More than twice as many people have a solar job compared with coal workers. There are approximately the same number of workers in the solar industry as in the natural gas industry.
  • Women now hold close to 28 percent of solar jobs. Veterans, Latinos/Hispanics, and African Americans also represent respectable percentages of the industry.

An impressive 44 out of 50 states experienced growth in the number of solar jobs available. This shows that solar is really starting to expand all across the country. The top states for solar jobs in 2016 were California, Massachusetts, Texas, Nevada, and Florida.

“In 2016, we saw a dramatic increase in the solar workforce across the nation, thanks to a rapid decrease in the cost of solar panels and unprecedented consumer demand for solar installations. More than ever, its’ clear that solar energy is a low-cost, reliable, super-abundant American energy source that is driving economic growth, strengthening businesses, and making our cities smarter and more resilient.” – Andrea Luecke – President and Executive Director of The Solar Foundation. Andrea also stressed the amazing fact that solar jobs have tripled since 2010 leading to the hundreds of thousands of jobs currently held in the industry.

Another important item of note pertains to the overall robust nature of the solar industry – growth occurred in all job sectors. Installation jobs are now at a total of 137,133 – a 14 percent increase for last year. There are now 34,400 jobs in project development. This represents a 53 percent increase. Manufacturing jobs grew to 38,121 which correlates to a growth rate of 26 percent. Finally, sales and distribution jobs increased to a total of 32,147, a 32 percent improvement.

The underlying driving force for this considerable growth trend in the solar industry pertains to favorable cost figures. Solar power is now very cost effective – it’s either at parity or now cheaper than competing sources of energy all across the country. Of course, this is just a starting point, utility regulations have been and will continue to be a hurdle. Businesses have also had to adopt structures that allow them to compete in the marketplace while seeking growth at the same time.

With another great solar year in the books, we can take another look at the big picture. The fact remains that solar power still represents a very small share of total electricity production in America. This is great news for solar advocates in that we can all look forward to much more solar power in the not too distant future!

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