Though the number of clean energy jobs declined during pandemic year 2020, such jobs have surged in recent years, reaching about 3.36 million the year before the pandemic, according to E2’s recent Clean Jobs America report. The number of people employed in clean energy jobs is nearly three times the number of people employed in fossil fuel extraction and generation.
About two-thirds of clean energy jobs are related to energy efficiency and include workers in buildings, those involved in producing Energy Star appliances and energy efficient lighting, and heating and cooling. About half a million jobs are in renewable energy such as solar and wind. The remaining jobs are in the clean vehicles, grid and storage, and fuel subsectors.
The entire country is benefitting from these mostly blue collar jobs, with California, Florida, New York, and Texas having the largest green workforces. The pay is good, too, averaging $23.89 per hour in 2019, about 25% higher than the median wage.
To find the states adding the most clean energy jobs, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed E2’s 2021 Clean Jobs America report. States are ranked by job growth in the three years from 2018 to 2020. E2 is a nonpartisan group advocating for environmental policies.
Clean energy jobs did not grow uniformly in all states. While they grew by 6% nationwide in the three-year period to $3.05 million (despite a 9.1% decline in 2020), they grew by as much as 38.9% in the state with the largest growth. In the top five states, clean energy jobs grew at a double-digit pace. (Here are the American cities that added jobs during the pandemic.)
Though Vermont had the slowest growth in clean energy jobs at 0.8%, the state has the largest share of its workforce employed in such jobs, at 5.37%. The most populous state, California, employs the most people in clean energy jobs, at nearly half a million. (This is how much renewable energy your state produces.)
The number of these jobs will continue to increase in the foreseeable future as the world focuses on climate change. With the growing numbers of national and municipal governments pledging to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, there is a worldwide drive toward non-carbon energy solutions.
Spurred by emerging clean energy policies and by both public and private assistance, clean energy is already becoming increasingly economically competitive. By 2025, it will be cheaper to build new solar and wind power sources than to continue operating most existing coal plants, according to research from Energy Innovation and Vibrant Clean Energy.
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