Despite Covid-induced collapse, clean energy jobs are getting stronger

Clean energy jobs jumped nearly 11% in the second half of 2020 to employ more than 3 million Americans in all states and nearly all counties, according to the Sixth Annual Clean Jobs America recently published report by E2.

Like most of the economy, clean energy was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn in 2020. At one point, more than 600,000 clean energy workers had filed for unemployment, but the sector rebounded strongly after May to recover about half of these. jobs to end the year down 307,000 clean energy workers. The decline in total clean energy employment was the first since E2 began producing its annual Clean Jobs America reports in 2016.

“Despite the unprecedented decline last year, data shows clean energy is creating jobs in every state and almost every county in the United States,” said Bob Keefe, executive director of E2. “The message to members of Congress is that if you want these high paying jobs in your backyard, you need to support the policies on the table that are ready to energize clean energy and keep it growing.”

Energy efficiency jobs saw the biggest decline, down about 11% year-on-year, as workers were barred from entering homes and offices due to pandemic lockdowns, the analysis said. Yet energy efficiency accounts for an even larger share of construction jobs in the United States, employing about one in five construction workers nationwide. Other clean energy sectors also saw significant declines in 2020, including renewables (6%), networks and storage (7%) and clean fuels (7%).

Several clean energy sectors saw job gains in 2020, including wind power which created around 2,000 jobs. But the brightest point was in the manufacturing of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, where around 12,200 jobs were added as a growing number of automakers announced changes towards producing 100% zero-emission vehicles.

Despite the setbacks, clean energy jobs have rebounded faster than the overall national workforce, according to the analysis. Clean energy jobs have increased by about 11% since May, compared to less than 9% growth in the national workforce during the same period.

Photo: E2 Sixth Annual Clean Jobs America report

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