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Job losses in renewables sector total 75,669; clean energy losses at 477,862: report


Biggest job losses came in April due to pandemic

Jobs creeping back over last four months, but slowly

  • Author
  • Jeffrey Ryser
  • Editor
  • Kshitiz Goliya
  • Commodity
  • Electric Power
  • Topic
  • Energy Transition Environment and Sustainability

The renewable power industry was down more than 75,669 jobs at the end of September since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March, though the sector's employment levels have been slowly creeping back since June, according to data compiled by four industry groups, including the American Council on Renewable Energy.

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The total number of jobs lost for the broader category of "clean energy" totaled over 477,862 at the end of September. That category includes not only the renewable power sector, but also energy efficiency, clean vehicles, grid and storage and clean fuels. In April alone, these five sectors shed 446,416 jobs, according to the data.

Joining ACORE in compiling the data from federal unemployment filings, were Environmental Entrepreneurs, or E2, the BW Research Partnership and E4The Future.

"Despite growing two times faster than the overall economy since 2017, the clean energy sector has been particularly slow to rebound compared to the nation's overall jobs recovery," according to the report released Oct. 8.

The report said that 12,479 jobs in clean energy were added in September, "leaving almost 14% of the sector's pre-COVID-19 workforce unemployed."

"Overall, Sept.'s job gains represented a 0.4% increase in nationwide clean energy jobs and leaves nearly more than 477,900 clean energy workers still out of work in a year the industry projected to add over 175,000 jobs."

In September, the report said, jobs in clean energy "grew by less than half a percent for the third time in four months and just one out of every five clean energy jobs lost between March and May has come back."

According to the seven months of data, the energy efficiency sector has been the hardest hit, with about 430,000 jobs shed in the first three months of the pandemic -- March, April and May.

That sector saw 71,786 jobs return in June, and an average of 7,780 jobs return in each of the subsequent three months. Nevertheless, at the end of September, the energy efficiency sector was still down 336,670 jobs, according to the data.

Employment in the clean vehicles sector, which was reported to have lost just over 45,500 jobs in the first three months of the pandemic, was still down 34,151 at the end of September.

The grid and storage sector ended September with 21,368 still unemployed after losing 27,349 jobs in the first three months.

The clean fuels sector lost 13,233 jobs in the first three months of the pandemic. It showed a slight revival in June when it added 2,351 jobs, but in the last three months jobs grew on average 293. At the end of September, the clean fuels industry was down 10,004 jobs over the seven month period.

Clean energy jobs by state

The report argued that there are more than 40 US states that "continue to suffer double-digit unemployment in the clean energy sector."

California is listed as the state with the largest number of clean energy job losses over the course of the last seven months, which is calculated to be over 81,200. According to the report, that is 14.9% of the state's clean energy workforce.

Georgia is ranked second, with job losses over the time period totaling 26,899, or 31.2% of the total clean energy workforce, followed by Florida, Michigan and Texas.

Just in September, North Carolina led all states with the highest percentage of workforce growth at 0.7% while California again saw the largest total increase in jobs with 2,600 positions added, a growth rate of 0.6%.

"No other state added over 1,000 clean energy jobs; only New York, Texas, and Illinois added more than 600. Ten states added fewer than 50 jobs each," the report said.

Seven Month Job Losses Per Clean Energy Sector

Energy Efficiency
Clean Vehicles
Grid & storage
Clean fuels
Industry Total
Clean Energy & COVID-19 Crisis,
September 2020 Impact Analysis
BW Research, E2, E4TheFuture, American
Council on Renewable Energy