Recently, the Solar Foundation released its annual Solar Jobs Census with its latest findings on solar employment and workforce trends which demonstrate that more Americans are employed in solar jobs, such as installing solar panels on rooftops, than mining coal or extracting oil and gas. The report found that the solar workforce grew 20 percent in the U.S. for the third straight year.
An online Forbes article acknowledged that “the shift is a profound one that highlights how U.S. clean energy, both solar and wind, has emerged as large and rapidly growing sectors.” And a thinkprogress.com article touts, “over the last year, the solar industry (alone) added jobs twelve times faster than the rest of the economy, even more than the jobs created by the oil and gas extraction and pipeline sectors combined.” The thinkprogrss.org article also quotes Andrea Luecke, president and executive director of the Solar Foundation, noting that the industry “continues to create skilled well-paying jobs at a really fast clip.”
The census touts that “the industry added 35,052 jobs, elevating its grand total to 209,859; that builds on the 31,000 jobs added the year before and 23,600 added the year before that.” In a state by state ranking, New Jersey comes in at No. 5 with 7,200 solar jobs, with the top three sectors being installation, manufacturing and project development. While those are solid numbers, New Jersey ranked No. 3 only five years ago.
The ReThink Energy NJ website touts the findings of several reports on the employment and economic benefits of renewable energy. One body of research by the Union of Concerned Scientists finds that “adopting a national policy to achieve a 25% renewable energy standard by 2025 would create more than three times as many jobs as producing an equivalent amount of electricity from fossil fuels.” “It’s clear that not only will transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables help to protect the health of our families and communities, it also will add increased employment opportunities for years to come,” says Tom Gilbert, campaign director — Energy, Climate & Natural Resources for New Jersey Conservation Foundation.