The National Solar Jobs Foundation covers the size and scope of the American solar workforce. The rapid development of solar energy has created an astonishing number of well-paying American jobs. As of 2018, there are approximately 242,343 solar workers in the United States, resulting in an overall growth of 159% since the first Census was released in 2010. Although, in 2017, the rate of growth in the solar industry slowed, resulting in a solar employment decline of approximately 8,000 jobs.
Solar employment had declined due to the Trump administration’s 30% tariff imposed on most imported solar modules at the beginning of 2018. The hearing had caused uncertainty in the solar marketplace and utility-scale solar developers to delay their projects in 2017, resulting in an overall solar industry decline. However, within the next year, solar jobs and installations are expected to return to an incline since installation equipment is now accessible and affordable for utility-scale developers.
Survey respondents predict a 7% solar job increase in 2019, due to incomplete utility-scale projects and new policy incentives in key states. In 2018, solar jobs and markets have developed an increase in 29 states. States with the highest solar workforce growth include Florida, Illinois, Texas, and New York. The complete 2018 list of solar jobs by state can be found here.
Approximately 87,000 (56%) of 155,000 solar jobs in the installation and project development sector are concentrated on the residential market segment. About 46,000 jobs (30%) are focused in the non-residential segment, including roughly 12,500 jobs in community solar. Furthermore, the utility-scale market is said to compromise 22,000 jobs (14%).
The solar workforce demographics remained quite similar to the previous year. In 2018, 26% of the workforce consisted of women; 17% consisted of Latino or Hispanic workers; 8% were made up of black or African American workers; and Asian workers made up 9%.
In 2018, there was an 8% increase in the difficulty level of finding qualified candidates to hire, resulting in 26% of solar establishments reporting it to be “very difficult”. Prior to 2018, in 2017, only 18% of solar establishments reported such challenges.
Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director at The Solar Foundation explains, “Despite two challenging years, the long-term outlook for this industry remains positive as even more Americans turn to low-cost solar energy and storage solutions to power their homes and businesses”. She continues, “However, it will take exceptional leadership at the federal, state, and local levels to spur this growth and address the urgent challenge of climate change. Expanding solar energy and storage across America will create high-quality jobs, reduce carbon emissions, boost local economies, and build resilient and adaptive communities”. Solar energy is expected to continue to be a leading job creator for America.