The solar industry is now losing jobs at a faster rate than the U.S. economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report.
The analysis from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) represents a 38% drop in solar jobs compared to previous estimates for June. The drop coincides with a 37% decrease in expected second-quarter solar installations from pre-COVID forecasts, as the U.S. is only on track to install 3 gigawatts (GW) of new capacity in second-quarter 2020.
“Thousands of solar workers are being laid off each week, but with swift action from Congress, we know that solar can be a crucial part of our economic recovery,” Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA, said in a statement on May 18. “With a few simple changes, Congress has an opportunity to save solar jobs, rebuild our economy and advance clean energy even as policymakers address this very real public health crisis.”
New analysis from SEIA shows that the U.S. solar industry will employ 114,000 fewer workers by June 2020, compared with previous forecasts that projected the industry would employ 302,000 Americans over the same time period. With an expected workforce of 188,000 people, this job loss will take the industry back to 2014 levels as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
By comparison, the U.S. government last week reported another 3 million unemployment claims, according to the release from SEIA.
All 50 states show solar jobs losses, with 36 states suffering job losses above 30%. Seven states and Washington, DC—including large solar states like New York and New Jersey—have seen solar job losses exceed 60%.
On May 13, a BW Research Partnership report based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data showed 95,600 renewable energy jobs and a total of 594,300 clean energy jobs had already been lost in March and April. SEIA’s analysis shows that a majority of renewable energy job losses come from the solar energy industry.
The 37% decrease in new installed solar capacity is equivalent to the electricity needed to power 288,000 homes and $3.2 billion in economic investment.
Key facts and figures from the SEIA report:
- The U.S. solar industry had to cut 65,000 jobs since the end of February as a direct result of COVID-19, and there will be 114,000 fewer solar jobs in June than there would be without the pandemic;
- 22 states will employ at least 1,000 fewer solar workers in June as a result of COVID-19, while 34 states and Puerto Rico will employ 500 less workers;
- Solar job losses due to COVID-10 will negate 5 years of solar industry growth, pushing the workforce back to a level not seen since 2014;
- Deployment losses in the second quarter alone will exceed 1,700 megawatts, which is enough to power 288,000 homes and $3.2 billion in economic investment; and
- The solar industry is losing jobs at a faster rate than the overall U.S. economy.
Founded in 1974, SEIA is a national trade association building a comprehensive vision for the Solar+ Decade through research, education and advocacy. The group works with its 1,000 member companies and other strategic partners to fight for policies that create jobs in every community and shape fair market rules that promote competition and the growth of solar power.
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