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The National Solar Jobs Census is the most credible, annual review of the solar energy workforce in the United States. Toggle the years below to view past reports and highlights:

The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2015 is the sixth annual update of current employment, trends, and projected growth in the U.S. solar industry. Census 2015 found that the industry continues to exceed growth expectations, adding workers at a rate nearly 12 times faster than the overall economy and accounting for 1.2% of all jobs created in the U.S. over the past year. Our long-term research shows that solar industry employment has grown by 123% in the past six years, resulting in nearly 115,000 domestic living-wage jobs.

As of November 2015, the solar industry employs 208,859 solar workers, representing a growth rate of 20.2% since November 2014.

FULL REPORT FACT SHEET              PRESS RELEASE     VIDEO

Highlights from Census 2015:

  • Over the next 12 months, employers surveyed expect to see total employment in the solar industry increase by 14.7% to 239,625 solar workers.

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  • One out of every 83 new jobs created in the U.S. since Census 2014 was created by the solar industry – representing 1.2% of all new jobs.
  • Of the 208,859 solar workers in the United States, approximately 188,000 are 100% dedicated to solar activities.
  • Wages paid to solar workers remain competitive with similar industries and provide many living-wage opportunities.
  • With 119,931 solar workers, the installation sector remains the single largest solar employment sector. The installation sector grew by almost 24% since November 2014 and by 173% since 2010.
  • The solar workforce continues to reflect greater diversity than many industry sectors, but the solar industry still has much work to do to represent the rich diversity of the overall U.S. population. Women in solar jobs increased by 2% and now represent 24% of the solar workforce.

Data for Census 2015 is derived from a statistically valid sampling and comprehensive survey of 400,000 establishments throughout the nation, in industries ranging from manufacturing, to construction and engineering, to sales. Rapid change in this industry has warranted annual examinations of the size and scope of the domestic solar labor force and updates on employers’ perspectives on job growth and future opportunities.

Infographic- National Solar Jobs Census 2014

The Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2014 is the fifth annual update of current employment, trends, and projected growth in the U.S. solar industry. Census 2014 found that the industry continues to exceed growth expectations, adding workers at a rate nearly 20 times faster than the overall economy and accounting for 1.3% of all jobs created in the U.S. over the past year. Our long-term research shows that solar industry employment has grown by 86% in the past five years, resulting in nearly 80,000 domestic living-wage jobs.

As of November 2014, the solar industry employs 173,807 solar workers, representing a growth rate of 21.8% since November 2013.

FULL REPORT FACT SHEET              PRESS RELEASE   

Highlights from Census 2014:

  • Over the next 12 months, employers surveyed expect to see total employment in the solar industry increase by 20.9% to 210,060 solar workers.
  • One out of every 78 new jobs created in the U.S. since Census 2013 was created by the solar industry – representing 1.3% of all new jobs.
  • Of the 173,807 solar workers in the United States, approximately 157,500 are 100% dedicated to solar activities.
  • Wages paid to solar workers remain competitive with similar industries and provide many living-wage opportunities.
  • The installation sector remains the single largest source of domestic employment growth, more than doubling in size since 2010.
  • Solar workers are increasingly diverse. Demographic groups such as Latino/Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and African American, along with women and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces now represent a larger percentage of the solar workforce than was observed in Census 2013.

Data for Census 2014 is derived from a statistically valid sampling and comprehensive survey of 276,376 establishments throughout the nation, in industries ranging from manufacturing, to construction and engineering, to sales. Rapid change in this industry has warranted annual examinations of the size and scope of the domestic solar labor force and updates on employers’ perspectives on job growth and future opportunities.

Census2013GraphicThe Solar Foundation’s highly anticipated National Solar Jobs Census 2013 found that the U.S. solar industry employed 142,698 Americans as of November 2013. This figure includes the addition of 23,682 solar workers over the previous year, representing 19.9 percent growth in employment since September 2012. During the period covered by the Census, solar employment grew 10 times faster than the national average employment rate of 1.9 percent. This growth rate is also significant in that it shows – for the first time ever – the solar industry exceeded the growth projections made in the previous year’s report. The Census was well-received by high-level stakeholders. Read the statement of support from Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. Also, check out The White House slide deck using Census data which was broadcast during the enhanced State of the Union.

FULL REPORT FACT SHEET           PRESS RELEASE           MEDIA ADVISORY           TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT

 Other noteworthy findings from National Solar Jobs Census 2013 include:

  • Seventy-seven percent of the nearly 24,000 new solar workers since September 2012 are new jobs, rather than existing positions that have added solar responsibilities, representing 18,211 new jobs created.
  • This comparison indicates that since data were collected for Census 2012, one in every 142 new jobs in the U.S. was created by the solar industry, and many more were saved by creating additional work opportunities for existing employees.
  • Installers added the most solar workers over the past year, growing by 22%, an increase of 12,500 workers.
  • Solar employment is expected to grow by 15.6% over the next 12 months, representing the addition of approximately 22,240 new solar workers. Forty-five percent of all solar establishments expect to add solar employees during this period.
  • Employers from each of the solar industry sectors examined in this study expect significant employment growth over the next 12 months, with nearly all of them projecting percentage job growth in the double-digits.
  • Approximately 91% of those who meet our definition of a “solar worker” (those workers who spend at least 50% of their time supporting solar-related activities) spent 100% of their time working on solar.
  • Wages paid by solar firms are competitive, with the average solar installer earning between $20.00 (median) and $23.63 (mean) per hour, which is comparable to wages paid to skilled electricians and plumbers and higher than average rates for roofers and construction workers. Production and assembly workers earn slightly less, averaging $15.00 (median) to $18.23 (mean) per hour, slightly more than the national average for electronic equipment assemblers.
  • The solar industry is a strong employer of veterans of the U.S. Armed Services, who constitute 9.24% of all solar workers – compared with 7.57% in the national economy. Solar employs a slightly larger proportion of Latino/Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander workers than the overall economy.

For the report’s release, TSF hosted a teleconference to discuss the Census’ findings and trends.

Speakers for this event included:

  • Governor Bill Ritter, Director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University
  • Andrea Luecke, Executive Director & President of The Solar Foundation
  • Lyndon Rive, Chief Executive Officer at SolarCity
  • Tom Werner, President and Chief Executive Office of SunPower
  • Amit Ronen, Director of The George Washington University’s Solar Institute
  • Philip Jordan, Vice President of BW Research Partnership
  • Moderator: Thomas P. Kimbis, Chairman of the Board of The Solar Foundation
Census2012GraphicOn November 14th, 2012, The Solar Foundation released its third annual National Solar Jobs Census report, which found that the U.S. solar industry currently employs 119,016 Americans. This figure represents the addition of 13,872 new solar workers and a 13.2 percent employment growth rate over the past 12 months. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the overall economy grew at a rate of 2.3 percent during the same period*, signifying that 1 in 230 jobs created nationally over the last year were created in the solar industry. The report, produced by The Solar Foundation and in partnership with BW Research and Cornell University, was released at the Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s Clean Energy Workforce Education Conference in Albany, NY.

FULL REPORT FACT SHEET         PRESS RELEASE        

By comparing the job growth expectations from both our multi-year research effort and existing secondary sources, we can draw several important conclusions:

As of September 2012,

—  Eighty-six percent of the nearly 14,000 new solar workers added since August 2011 represent new jobs, rather than existing positions that have added solar responsibilities.

—  Installers added the most solar workers over the past year, more than offsetting declines in manufacturing. While this subsector is dominated by small firms, employment is growing most dramatically at larger firms, suggesting consolidation and maturation of the installation sector.

—  Solar employment is expected to grow by 17.2 percent over the next 12 months, representing the addition of approximately 20,000 new solar workers. Forty-four percent of all solar firms expect to add solar employees during this period.

—  Employers from all of the solar industry subsectors examined in this study expect significant employment growth over the next 12 months, with nearly all of them projecting percentage job growth in the double-digits.

— Nearly half of installation firms expect to add solar workers in the next year, adding a total of nearly 12,000 jobs (21 percent growth year-over-year).

— Approximately 90 percent of those who meet our definition of a “solar worker” (those workers who spend at least 50 percent of their time supporting solar-related activities) actually spend 100 percent of their time working on solar.

— Over half of all firms (across all subsectors) generate 100 percent of their revenues exclusively from solar.

— Employers are increasingly less likely to span multiple subsectors, suggesting that firms are beginning to specialize.

Much more in the FULL REPORT

Read what the media is writing about the National Solar Jobs Census 2012:

Bloomberg PV Magazine Politico Morning Energy
CleanTechnica Forbes (#1) Politico Pro (subs. req.)
EarthTechling (#1) Solar Industry Mag (#1) PV Tech
Renewable Energy World Sustainable Business Grist Magazine
ClimateProgress The Atlantic Wire Silicon Beat
AOL Energy Solar Novus 24/7 Wall St.
Phoenix Business Journal Contractor Magazine Power Engineering Magazine
Nonprofit Quarterly SolarServer Clean Energy Authority
US Department of Energy EarthTechling (#2) Politico Morning Energy (#2)
Climate Progress Forbes (#2) Solar Industry Mag (#2)

 

Census2011GraphicOn October 17th, The Solar Foundation, in partnership with GreenLMI and Cornell University, released its National Solar Jobs Census 2011 report. Much like the award-winning National Solar Jobs Census 2010, the Census 2011 sheds light on the solar industry’s impact on the overall economy through labor market data. Building off of last year’s highly defensible baseline jobs numbers, Census 2011 contains additional information on the top twenty states for solar jobs, employer workforce challenges and needs, and recommendations for employers, policymakers and workforce training providers.

FULL REPORT FACT SHEET         PRESS RELEASE        

In part, Census 2011 found:

  • 100,237 jobs as of August 2011
  • 6.8% growth from August 2010 to August 2011 – growing nearly ten times faster than the overall economy
  • 6,735 new solar jobs created between August 2010 and August 2011
  • Employers expect to increase their workforce by 24% next year, creating 24,000 net new solar jobs

Also included you will find: 

  • Top twenty states for solar jobs ranked
  • Recommendations for policymakers, workforce training providers, employers
  • Company profiles
  • Value chain breakdown for top five states

Compared with the overall economy, which grew only 0.7% during that same period, the solar industry is an economic bright spot.

Click below to read what the media is saying:

On camera interviews with Executive Director Andrea Luecke:

Listen to an International City/County Management Association podcast with Andrea Luecke on the Census

Click below to read press reports on the prerelease of our top-line numbers:

In 2010, The Solar Foundation (TSF) released the National Solar Jobs Census 2010. TSF contracted with Green LMI, a labor market research firm, and partnered with Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations to author the first-of-its-kind report. The award-winning Census established the first credible solar jobs baseline and continues to provide policy-makers with tangible proof that the solar industry is having a positive and substantial impact on the U.S. economy.

FULL REPORT WEBINAR 

The report was released at the Solar Power International 2010 conference in Los Angeles on October 13, 2010 at the Census Release Party, sponsored by RenewableEnergyWorld.com, HeliosUSA, Hunton & Williams, and Yingli Solar.

The positive responses to The Solar Foundation’s research exemplify the widespread need in for data demonstrating the value of solar energy to the U.S. economy. We strive to continually improve our work in this area and provide more research showing the value of both public and private sector investments in solar energy. In the absence of Bureau of Labor Statistics data on the full range of solar occupations, it is of critical importance to the solar industry that organizations like ours conduct this type of research that not only help us to better understand the needs of employers (so that we can better design training programs that lead to more qualified and skilled employees), but also to give policymakers an indication of how solar is creating jobs in their districts.

In a press release for National Solar Jobs Census 2010,Secretary of Labor Hilda L Solis said:

“Among other things, this study shows that investments made through Recovery Act—including the $2.3 billion in tax credits to U.S. based clean energy manufacturing—are already generating positive results. The solar energy sector is an increasingly important source of good jobs for Americans. Fostering the growth of this emerging industry will help protect our environment, ensure the U.S. remains competitive in the global economy, and offer great opportunities for the nation’s working families.”   

See what the media said about the National Solar Jobs Census 2010: