Economic analysis finds solar industry produced $154 billion in economic activity for the United States in 2016
The Solar Foundation today released data on the number of solar jobs in every state, metropolitan area, county, and congressional district, revealing the impact of the nation’s historic solar jobs boom down to the local level. This data can be found on an interactive Solar Jobs Map available at SolarStates.org.
The new Solar Jobs Map is part of the data collection effort for The Solar Foundation’s Solar Jobs Census 2016, the seventh annual report on solar employment in the United States. In addition to the map, The Solar Foundation produced 50 state-level fact sheets and released an analysis of the economic impact of the solar labor market nationwide and in five states: California, Florida, New York, Ohio, and Texas.
The Solar Jobs Census 2016 found that employment increased by a historic 25 percent nationwide from 2015 to 2016, for a total of 260,077 solar workers. This growth occurred across all regions of the country — the number of solar jobs increased in 44 of the 50 states from 2015 to 2016. In 21 of the 50 states, solar jobs grew by 50 percent or more.
Metropolitan areas across the nation also saw historic solar jobs growth from 2015 to 2016, as the data in the Solar Jobs Map shows. For example, solar jobs in the Cleveland, Ohio metropolitan area doubled, for a total of 1,632 solar workers in 2016. The number of jobs in the San Antonio, Texas metro area increased by 146 percent to 1,767 solar workers.
Jobs in the Albuquerque, New Mexico metro area increased 78 percent to 1,771 solar workers. Jobs in Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Florida increased 40 percent to 1,215 solar workers. The Atlanta, Georgia metro area had 2,406 solar workers, a 15 percent increase from 2015; and jobs in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin metro area increased 20 percent to 1,033 solar workers.
“The solar industry is generating well-paying jobs everywhere from Detroit to Miami to Salt Lake City, and in states from Ohio to Texas to South Carolina,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director of The Solar Foundation. “America’s solar energy boom adds tens of billions of dollars to our economy each year, all while providing an affordable, reliable, and local energy source.”
The top 25 metropolitan areas based on the total number of solar workers are listed below, along with the percentage increase or decrease from 2015. The Solar Jobs Map provides complete data on solar jobs in all 50 states, along with details on jobs by solar employment sector, percentages of women and veterans in the solar workforce, and more. Users can toggle between 2015 and 2016 data to compare the number of solar jobs year over year.
In 2016, The Solar Foundation found that with 260,077 solar workers nationwide, the solar industry produced $62.5 billion in direct sales. The solar industry’s broader labor impact that includes direct, indirect, and induced jobs amounted to nearly 789,000 U.S. jobs. These jobs paid more than $50 billion in salaries, wages, and benefits and produced $154 billion in total economic activity for the United States in 2016. State-based economic impact data for California, Florida, New York, Ohio, and Texas are available via fact sheets at SolarStates.org.
“Solar power not only enhances environmental protection and health — it helps accelerate economic growth,” said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. “We are pleased that the solar industry continues to find Colorado a good state for business. For years, Colorado has been on the leading edge of clean energy and solar deployment. Thanks to Coloradans’ vision, initiative, and leadership, we’ve grown our solar workforce by 20 percent in 2016 — and are among the top states in solar deployment, setting a great example for the entire nation.”
“As a Solar America City and a SolSmart Gold City, we’ve worked to make it easier and more affordable to install solar,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “As a result, we have seen tremendous growth of solar job opportunities in Milwaukee and hope to see continued growth in these sustainable jobs. These jobs are important to our local economy and help us reach many of the goals in our City’s sustainability plan.”
Since 2010, The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census has defined solar workers as those who spend at least 50 percent of their time on solar-related work. The Solar Foundation has consistently found that approximately 90 percent of these workers spend 100 percent of their time on solar-related work. The Solar Jobs Census 2016 was part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) data collection effort that included more than 500,000 telephone calls and over 60,000 emails to energy establishments in the U.S. between October and November 2016. This resulted in a total of 3,888 full completions for establishments involved in solar activity in the United States.
Detailed information on solar jobs at the national level can be found in the full report for the National Solar Jobs Census 2016, available at SolarJobsCensus.org. Complete information on solar jobs at the state and local levels can be found in the Solar Jobs Map available at SolarStates.org.
About The Solar Foundation
The Solar Foundation® is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to accelerate adoption of the world’s most abundant energy source. Through its leadership, research, and capacity building, The Solar Foundation creates transformative solutions to achieve a prosperous future in which solar technology is integrated into all aspects of our lives. The Solar Foundation is considered the premier research organization on the solar labor workforce, employer trends, and the economic impacts of solar. It has provided expert advice to leading organizations such as the National Academies, the Inter-American Development Bank, the U.S. Department of Energy, and others during a time of dynamic industry growth and policy and economic uncertainty. Visit us at TheSolarFoundation.org.