US solar industry loses almost 10,000 jobs
A survey of the solar industry in the United States has found almost 10,000 fewer jobs in 2017 than in the previous year.
This is the finding from The Solar Foundation’s eighth national jobs census, which shows a decline in jobs figures for the first time.
The non-profit organisation recorded 250,271 jobs in the solar industry across all 50 US states, 9,800 fewer than in 2016, and a 3.8 percent decline.
However, the long-term trend and on the individual state level painted a different picture. Overall, since the survey began in 2010, the workforce has increased by 168 percent, and 29 states in 2017 saw significant job increases.
California, home to 40 percent of solar capacity in the US, saw the bulk of job losses, along with established markets in Massachusetts and Nevada. Emerging solar states, such as Utah, Arizona and New Jersey all saw increases of over 1,000 jobs.
“After six years of rapid and steady growth, the solar industry faced headwinds that led to a dip in employment in 2017, including a slowdown in the pace of new solar installations,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director at The Solar Foundation.
She also said uncertainty as to the outcome of a trade case relating to solar imports is likely to have had an impact over the past year. President Trump recently announced tariffs of up to 30 percent on solar equipment coming into the United States, in a move which could cause further job losses.
Responding before the tariff announcement, 86 percent of solar companies said their businesses would be negatively affected by any trade restrictions.
Lynn Jurich, Co-Founder and CEO of residential solar business, Sunrun, remained upbeat: “Although uncertainty over the tariff restrained the industry in recent months, the fact remains that solar energy is the lowest-cost, cleanest, most abundant and accessible energy source in the world”.
The report separately found that the solar industry employs twice as many workers than the coal industry, despite providing just under 2 percent of energy generation. It is also five times higher than the nuclear industry, based on 2016 figures.
Total US jobs in the solar industry now sits at just over 250,000. Source: The Solar Foundation
Image Credit: Antonio Garcia