Steady Growth of the U.S. Solar Jobs Market

The solar industry is one of the fastest growing job markets in the U.S., employing more than 119,000 skilled workers.

The market is growing at an annual rate of 13.2 percent.

A new report released today by the Solar Foundation tracks the steady growth of America’s solar jobs market over the past twelve months. Now in its third iteration, the 2012 National Solar Jobs Census finds that the solar industry is one of the fastest growing job markets in the country — employing more than 119,000 skilled solar workers and growing at an annual rate of 13.2 percent.

As we highlighted last week, Energy Department-supported research and development (R&D) remains one of the most important factors driving the steady expansion of the U.S. solar jobs sector. In the latest round of SunShot Incubator projects announced today, the Energy Department will invest in 10 innovative small businesses to acceleratethe transfer of solar energy technology from the lab to the marketplace. These projects aim to significantly reduce the cost of solar energy systems for American homes and businesses — creating new jobs and market opportunities in the process. As a result of consistent federal policy, the Administration’s sustained commitment to R&D, and the significant decline in prices for solar energy products, the Solar Foundation projects continued robust growth for the solar jobs market over the coming year.

Other key findings from the Solar Jobs Census include the breakdown of solar jobs by subsector — from sales and distribution to manufacturing and product development. Installation companies grew their solar workforce to more than 57,000 employees — becoming the largest subsector of the U.S. solar industry. Manufacturers remain another leading sector — employing nearly 30,000 solar workers across the country. Rounding out the top three largest subsectors is the sales and distribution industry — which has grown to more than 16,000 skilled workers.

With public and private innovation driving U.S. leadership in the global solar energy market, this dynamic, ever-evolving industry will remain a critical source of skilled, quality jobs for America’s workforce.

For additional information on the report’s findings — including detailed analysis and projections for future growth — see the 2012 Solar Jobs Census. And, for more on the Energy Department’s support for innovative solar energy R&D — including the SunShot Incubator — visit the SunShot Initiative website.

By Erin R. Pierce, Digital Specialist, Office of Public Affairs