Need Jobs? The US Solar Industry Provides Employment for More People Than Coal and Oil Combined
By Christina Sarich, Nation of Change, Published: Friday 7 February 2014
Welcome to the future, its already here. Solar employs and nuclear destroys; we have ample evidence of that now, and with the annual U.S. solar jobs census we now have proof that solar power isn’t just providing energy, without destroying our oceans and contaminating the earth and air with strontium, caesium and barium, among other chemicals, it is providing more than 143,000 Americans a paycheck.
Since 2012, that’s nearly a 20 percent increase, says The Solar Foundation, which conducts the census. An additional 23,682 jobs have been added—10 times the rate of employment growth as the national average of just 1.9 percent. In the past four years, 50,000 well paying jobs were added—many of them building and installing solar panels and this employment rate is expected to continue growing at a steady pace.
Solar installers also make an average of $20 to $23.60 an hour compared to the wages of a coal miner; that isn’t bad especially considering the payout to workers with black lung disease amount to billions and the detrimental affects to a worker’s health are almost irreversible.
Comparatively, during the last two years, fossil fuel jobs declined by 8.7 percent leaving 8,500 positions void, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you add up the figures, the solar industry now employs more folks than our coal and natural gas industries combined.
The high cost of solar, which was one factor slowing the industry’s growth is also now quickly changing. More than 51 percent of people are now installing solar not just to protect the environment and avoid another Fukushima disaster, but because it is cheaper.
According to Philip Jordan, vice president at BW Research Partnership, and a partner in the research:
“The study shows both aggressive hiring and clear optimism among U.S. solar companies. Of particular interest are the continued high wages among solar installers; we also found higher than average employment of veterans in the solar industry, a sign that their high-tech skills are valued in this sector.”
SolarCity created more than 2000 jobs just last year. Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity reminds us that, “when we install solar panels, we create local jobs that can’t be outsourced…We’ve barely begun this transformation, but as it advances, the American solar industry has the potential to be one of the greatest job creators this country has ever seen.”
In the words of George Harrison, “Here Comes the Sun.”