Due to the hard-hitting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the clean energy industry finished 2020 with its fewest number of workers since 2015. It also marked the first year clean energy saw a decline in jobs compared to the previous year. About 16,900 jobs were added in December by U.S. clean energy businesses, leaving more than 429,000 (12% of the sector’s pre-COVID-19 workforce) still unemployed, according to the latest analysis of federal unemployment filings prepared for E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), E4TheFuture and the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) by BW Research Partnership.
Ten months after the nationwide unemployment crisis began, 70% of the jobs lost in the clean energy sector have yet to be recovered, according to the monthly report. At the rate of recovery since June, it would take about two and a half years for the clean energy sector to reach pre-COVID employment levels. It would take an additional year to reach the levels of clean energy employment that had been projected for 2020 before the pandemic struck.
Impacts of the pandemic-fueled job crisis continue to disproportionately impact women and Black and Hispanic workers. Women—particularly women of color—and Hispanic workers lost jobs overall in December despite total clean energy employment growing slightly, at a rate of 0.6%.
State and Sector Impacts
No clean energy employment sector grew by more than 0.7% in December. Energy efficiency saw the strongest employment growth, adding 12,300 jobs. It was followed by renewable energy (2,700) and clean transmission, distribution and storage (750).
Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia are still suffering double-digit unemployment in clean energy, with 12 states experiencing unemployment of 15% or more. Georgia continues to have the highest rate, with over 30% of its clean energy workforce still unemployed, followed by Kentucky at 27%. In December, Hawaii had the sector’s highest growth rate at 1.2% while California again saw the largest total increase in jobs with 3,300 positions added (0.7%). Florida, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, and Texas all added more than 600 jobs, while 15 states added fewer than 100 each.
The data analyzed for this report did not include workers who had their work hours slashed and are now significantly underemployed.
For more information, including breakdowns by state, county and metro area, click here.
Before COVID-19, nearly 3.4 million Americans across all 50 states and the District of Columbia worked in clean energy occupations, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, grid modernization, clean vehicles and fuels. That’s more people than work in real estate, banking or agriculture in the U.S., and three times the number of Americans that worked in fossil fuels, according to E2’s Clean Jobs America report.
E4TheFuture | http://www.e4thefuture.org
Environmental Entrepreneurs | http://www.e2.org
ACORE | http://www.acore.org