October 18, 2011 - The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit
solar education and research organization, has released its second
annual review of the solar workforce in the United
The report, titled,
"National Solar Jobs Census 2011: A Review
of the U.S. Solar Workforce" found that
hiring in the solar workforce is on the rise. More than 100,000
Americans are now employed in the solar industry.
"The solar industry has grown into a major economic force with
more than 100,000 employees in the United States," said Andrea
Luecke, executive director of The Solar Foundation.
"We expect even greater growth in the foreseeable future. But
policymakers, workforce training providers, and the industry must
work together to continue creating good jobs for skilled
As of August 2011, the National Solar Jobs Census 2011
identified more than 17,198 solar employment sites and 100,237
solar jobs in all 50 states. The solar industry's job growth rate
of 6.8 percent is significantly higher than the 2 percent net job
loss in fossil fuel power generation and the economy-wide
expectation of 0.7 percent growth over the same period.
At the state level, California continued to be the national
leader in solar employment, with 25,575 workers. Rounding out the
top 10 states are Colorado, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New York,
Florida, Texas, Oregon, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Colorado,
Arizona, Florida, Oregon, New Jersey and Massachusetts showed the
strongest growth rates from August 2010.
"States like Colorado see solar as one of the cornerstones for
our economy now and into the future," said Wendy Mitchell, Chief
Executive Officer of the Aurora Economic Development Council in
Colorado. "Both GE Solar's announcement to locate their new $300
million solar manufacturing plant in Aurora (which will create 355
new direct solar jobs) and the
results of the National Solar Jobs Census show that Colorado's
investment in the solar industry is paying off in good jobs for
skilled workers. It is important that we continue to promote this
job-generating industry both at the state and federal
The National Solar Jobs Census 2011 also found that solar
employers expect to increase the number of solar workers by 24
percent, representing nearly 24,000 net new jobs by August 2012.
Over the next 12 months, nearly half of solar firms expect to add
"These survey responses merely reflect employers' best estimates
at expected new hiring, but it demonstrates a clear growth pattern
for the industry and tremendous optimism by employers in the
industry," said Luecke. "Employers expressed similar optimism last
year, but failed to meet their hiring expectations because of
stalled legislative initiatives and continued policy
The survey examined employment along the solar value chain,
including installation, wholesale trade, manufacturing, utilities
and all other fields and includes growth rates and job numbers for
31 separate occupations. The report included data from more than
2,100 solar company survey respondents.
"The National Solar Jobs Census is an important reference
because the previous lack of data about solar employment was
presenting difficulties to policymakers and training providers,"
said Philip Jordan, Chief Business Officer at BW Research
"The Solar Foundation is helping to fill that gap with solid
research that allows us to draw important conclusions about the
solar industry with a high degree of confidence, while giving
training providers, job seekers, and the general public the
critical information they need to understand the solar labor
"The jobs census is setting a new standard for clean energy job
studies. By using high-quality research methodology, we can ensure
that these numbers are as accurate as possible," said John Bunge,
Associate Professor in the Department of Statistical Science at
Cornell University's School of Industrial Labor Relations.
"The use of both primary and secondary data sources, along with
careful statistical analysis, gives us high confidence in the
results. We expect our rigorous methodology to be extended to
econometric studies of green jobs beyond the solar industry."
The full report is available here.