A clean power future will jumpstart America’s next-generation workforce.
The 2021 Clean Energy Labor Supply report from BW Research Partnership, released by the American Clean Power Association, details current clean energy employment and unionization rates, revealing how many Americans across the country are already working in good-paying, clean energy jobs. Based on two scenarios of renewables deployment — 50% and 70% of electricity generated from renewables by 2030 — the study projects the number of workers that will be needed to meet these goals and highlights those occupations where high demand for workers could result in labor gaps.
The clean energy industry enables good-paying, union jobs
There are already more than 415,000 Americans across all 50 states that proudly make up the wind, solar, and energy storage workforce. These careers are some of the fastest growing occupations in the country – wind technicians are the country’s #1 fastest growing role, and solar installers are #3. Clean energy workers make 30% more than the national median wage, ensuring that they have access to good paying jobs that support them and their families. The clean energy workforce is highly unionized, with union coverage rates just above 10% compared to the average national private-sector union coverage rate of 7.7%. America’s clean energy companies are proud of the good-paying, fast growing, and heavily unionized careers that our sector has already built and support policies that will broaden these careers to many more US workers.
Accelerating the growth of clean energy is the best strategy to benefit American workers
The Biden Administration and Congress have proposed policies that could enable the US to reach 50%-70% clean energy generation by 2030. American workers would benefit greatly from this increased deployment of solar, wind, and energy storage. These policies would create an additional 500,000 – 600,000 jobs across several occupations – especially construction, manufacturing, and operations and
maintenance roles. The majority of these jobs pay wages above the national average, and include careers like mechanics, electrical engineers, and civil engineers which can earn up to 47% more than the average American. Many of the jobs created by these policies will be concentrated in heavily unionized sectors, furthering cementing clean energy as a leader in this country for a unionized workforce.
This job growth will outpace labor supply; requiring an “all of the above” approach to putting Americans to work
The pace of this economic opportunity is not without its challenges –labor supply projections show there would be material shortages in the workers needed to meet all of the newly created jobs from increasing clean energy to 50%-70% of generation by 2030. The country will need over 40,000 electricians, 9,000 welders, 7,000 wind technicians, and a host of other workers above-and-beyond labor projections. To meet this level of demand, the country needs an all hands on deck approach to expand the talent pipeline – training programs, public-private partnerships, community college and vocational programs, and partnership with labor unions and non-profits.
About the Study
The underlying modeling was prepared by BW Research using the NREL JEDI models for offshore and onshore wind, and an IMPLAN-by-parts analysis mapped against NREL research papers for solar and energy storage. The analysis relied on conservative domestic content estimates. The study also leveraged data from the 2020 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) and underlying data organized by NAICS codes.
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