On November 2nd, the Solar Foundation announced that the U.S. solar industry employs 119,016 Americans across all 50 states. This figure represents the addition of 13,872 new solar jobs and a 13.2 percent employment growth rate over the past 12 months. During the same period, the Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that employment in the overall economy grew at a rate of 2.3 percent, signifying that 1 in 230 jobs created nationally over the last year were in the solar industry.
Nearly one third of employers who responded to the survey cited the continued decline in equipment prices as the primary driver of employment growth. Many in the solar industry share an opinion that the component pricing decline will soon bottom out, if not already. State legislation enacting Renewable Portfolio Standards or authorizing third-party system ownership and federal tax incentives were other leading drivers of growth.
Currently, the U.S. has about 5,700 megawatts of installed solar energy capacity, which can power about 940,000 homes. It’s expected that another 3.2 gigawatts of solar power will be installed by the end of 2012, with another 3.9 gigawatts added in 2013.
Americans recognize that clean, local energy and clean air deliver real benefits to our communities. In addition to the 119,016 people with jobs in the solar industry, more than 150,000 people work building parts for and assembling clean cars — hybrids, electric cars, and other advanced vehicles that weren’t even available 10 years ago. More than 1 million Americans are now saving money on their electric bills because they made their homes more energy efficient. And soon, hundreds of thousands of children will breathe easier once power plants start following new limits on mercury, lead, and other air pollutants.