That’s more than the coal mining – 93,185 jobs – and represents an 86% growth rate in four years, and 22% growth rate this past year, adding 31,000 new jobs to the economy. Those are the findings of The Solar Foundation, an independent nonprofit solar research and education organization that has released its fifth annual National Solar Jobs Census.
Solar employment grew nearly 20 times faster than the national average employment growth rate of 1.1%. The findings reveal that one out of every 78 new jobs created in the U.S. over the past 12 months was created by the solar industry – 1.3% of all jobs. And for the fifth consecutive year, the solar industry is attracting highly-skilled, well-paid professionals. According to its CEO Lyndon Rive, “SolarCity is extremely proud to be the largest solar employer in the U.S., and to have added more than 4,000 new U.S. jobs in 2014.”
In California, the solar industry employs more workers than the entire workforces of the state’s major investor-owned utilities. California has more than one-third of the nation’s solar jobs, representing 47,223 workers, up 8% from 2012.
The National Solar Jobs Census 2014 was produced from data collected from more than 7,600 U.S. businesses. It measured employment growth in the solar industry between November 2013 and November 2014 with a margin of error of +/-2.03%. Of particular interest to the researchers was the continued high wages among solar installers. They also found that the solar installation sector is generally more diverse than other energy sectors, hiring more African-Americans and Latinos than the oil, gas, coal and construction sectors.