During the last few days of the election, when politicians scramble to make promises about jobs and the economy, only a fool would ignore this statistic: employment in the solar industry has grown 13.2 percent over the last year.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the U.S. economy grew 2.3 percent during the same period.
The results from the 2012 National Solar Job Census concludes that the solar industry employs 119,016 Americans across all 50 states. Solar jobs have been steadily multiplying, rising by more than 25,000 employees since 2010. This 13.2 percent growth in solar employment bolsters the fact that any job plan worth its salt continues to support and encourage growth in renewables.
The census, collected from more than 1,000 solar companies, highlights the critical role federal and state solar policy (like investment tax credits and federal funding for renewable energy commercialization) have in the continued success (read: job creation) of this hot sector.
Other clear factors in solar’s job growth are the decline in solar energy prices and third-party system ownership models.
The Solar Foundation’s Executive Director Andrea Luecke said the nearly 120,000 solar jobs include installation, sales, marketing and software development and are, “highly skilled in nature… cannot be outsourced and play a critical role in our country’s economic recovery.”
The National Solar Jobs survey was conducted by Washington D.C.–based nonprofit The Solar Foundation, BW Research, and Cornell University for technical assistance.
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.