There are more US jobs in solar than all fossil fuels put together

With all the attention on coal employment, you might think that coal has the biggest share of energy jobs, right?

Not by a long shot. According to the recently published 2019 United States Energy Employment Report (USEER 2019), coal provides one of the lowest number of energy jobs in the power industry. When it comes to grid-related energy jobs, solar is the clear winner, providing more employment than coal, natural gas, and oil put together. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Solar jobs: 242,343
  • Natural gas jobs: 112,685
  • Coal jobs: 86,202
  • All fossil fuel jobs together: 211,469

Fun fact: if you include part-time solar workers, USEER says there were another 92,649 people working in the solar industry, bringing the total solar energy jobs to 334,992 in 2018!

Despite the incredible growth in solar globally, the number of US solar jobs actually fell 17,700, or 14.7% since 2017. While it’s tough to know for sure, it’s a good bet that one of the largest reasons is the 30% tariffs the Trump administration added to all incoming solar products in early 2017.

Solar foundation solar energy jobs over time
Source: The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2018

Future outlook on solar and other energy jobs

The immediate outlook for solar jobs remains cloudy – they could go up or continue their recent decline. Most of this depends on the outcome of the many tariff disputes between the US and China. One particularly bright spot, however, is the Trump administration’s recent exemption for bifacial solar modules. This technology doesn’t work as well on residential rooftops but it’s a game-changer for commercial and utility scale installations. By itself, it could put the growth of solar jobs back on the fast track.

Additional reading

Solar workers on a roof holding a panel that says "solar provides more energy jobs than all fossil fuels together"

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