Study: Solar Jobs Jumped 20% in 2013
Yesterday, The Solar Foundation released its 4th annual National Solar Jobs Census, detailing the progress being made in the solar industry. The census found that the U.S. solar industry employed more than 142,000 people in 2013 – a 19.9% increase from 2012 and a 53% increase in the last four years (meanwhile, the national average employment growth rate in 2013 was 1.9%). Not only is the increase in solar jobs a good thing for our economy, but it also means that Americans are steadily moving over to solar power from conventional energy, further evidenced by the fact that the fossil fuel electric generation sector experienced an 8.7% decrease in jobs in 2013.
According to The Solar Foundation’s executive director Andrea Luecke, “The solar industry’s job-creating power is clear.” As Luecke also mentioned, another reason to get excited about the increase in solar industry jobs is that “solar jobs remain well-paid and attract highly-skilled workers.” But Andrea Luecke is not the only one convinced that the solar industry will continue to grow. Former Colorado governor and Director of the Center for Energy Economy at Colorado State University Bill Ritter also agrees. “The Solar industry is a proven job-creator.” He continues, “In Colorado and across the country, we have seen that when the right policies are in place to create long-term market certainty, this industry continues to add jobs to our economy.”
But why is the solar industry so quickly expanding? According to Lynda Rive, CEO of SolarCity, “More than 90% of Americans believe we should be using more solar, and fewer than 1% have it today.” Surprisingly, while many people believe we should transition to solar energy for environmental reasons, over 50% of new solar energy customers report switching to save money. As the availability of fossil fuel resources continues to decline, transitioning to solar energy may not only be necessary to combat climate change, but also to keep gas and electricity bills affordable for many Americans, especially now that the prices for solar panels and other equipment have gone down drastically in the last few years. Let’s hope the trend continues, as solar energy might just be the key to saving our bank accounts as well as our planet.