Department of Energy

Solar Energy Jobs Outpace U.S. Economy

January 12, 2016

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American solar power continued its rapid growth in 2015, adding new jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy, while saving customers tens of millions of dollars per year on energy bills. | Photo courtesy of O2emc.

American solar power continued its rapid growth in 2015, adding new jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy, while saving customers tens of millions of dollars per year on energy bills. | Photo courtesy of O2emc.

Tonight, during the State of the Union address, President Obama will reflect back on the past seven years of his presidency and celebrate his Administration’s accomplishments -- and when it comes to solar energy, the Obama Administration has plenty to celebrate.

U.S. solar energy capacity has grown thirtyfold since President Obama took office. And in just the first nine months of 2015, solar accounted for 31 percent of all new electric generating capacity. Across the United States, there are now nearly one million solar energy projects operating. All told, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars per year on their electricity bills. And rooftop solar customers can expect to see savings every year for the 30-plus years their solar system is in service.

These savings are bolstered by a skilled, thriving workforce that is also growing at an impressive rate. The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2015, released today, revealed that in 2015 the solar workforce grew at a rate 12 times faster than the overall economy and now boasts 208,859 solar workers.

Consider these key facts from this year’s census:

  • Since 2010, the U.S. solar workforce has increased 123 percent.
  • This is the third consecutive year that solar employment grew by approximately 20 percent.
  • Veterans of the U.S. Armed Services make up 8.1 percent of the solar workforce.

Since The Solar Foundation began tracking solar workforce trends in 2010, the solar industry has added highly skilled jobs to the U.S. economy every year. Even as unemployment levels reached all-time highs in 2009, the solar industry was able to add jobs and serve as a bright point in a sluggish national economy. From New York, where solar workers are saving their neighbors approximately $11 million per year through solar, to Arizona, where solar customers are saving approximately $13 million, Americans working in the solar industry are having a real impact on our nation’s economy.

Since 2011, SunShot Initiative programs have inspired innovation and encouraged the creation of new businesses and jobs throughout the country. Today, there are thousands of thriving solar small businesses in every state throughout our nation that leverage American ingenuity to ensure that more of us have an opportunity to capture the American dream.   

Moreover, solar jobs offer competitive wages. On average, solar installation workers -- the industry’s biggest sector -- earn a median wage of $21 per hour, while solar designers earn $27 per hour and sales, marketing and customer service professionals earn $29 per hour. By continuing to spur the creation of new small businesses and providing high-quality living wage jobs, solar’s dramatic growth under the Obama Administration enables more Americans to provide for their families while also helping the United States to achieve its clean energy and climate goals.   

As solar energy continues to grow throughout the United States, the SunShot Initiative looks forward to inspiring innovation and creating new opportunities to grow this vibrant sector of our economy. Learn more about SunShot and map out your own solar energy career