– By the Electrical India content team
The U.S. has lost over 106,000 clean energy jobs in March, and hundreds more are expected in the months to come due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. California, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Michigan were the states hit hardest by the sector’s losses.
The job loss estimates are based on an analysis of unemployment data released by E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), E4TheFuture and the BW Research Partnership.
An analysis conducted by the Department of Labor found that 106,472 workers in clean energy occupations filed for unemployment benefits last month, wiping out all 2019 clean energy job gains across renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean vehicles, energy storage and clean fuels. The clean energy jobs, as defined in the report, include electricians, HVAC and mechanical trades technicians and construction workers who work in energy efficiency, solar installers, wind industry engineers and technicians, and manufacturing workers employed by electric and other clean-vehicle manufacturing companies and suppliers.
Clean energy has been one of the U.S. economy’s biggest and fast-growing employment sectors over the past decade, growing 10.4 per cent since 2015. According to E2, there were 3.36 million workers in the sector at the end of 2019, an increase of more than 70,000 from a year earlier. At the start of 2020, America’s clean energy workforce accounted for more than one out of every 50 U.S. workers. That made clean energy by far the biggest employer of workers in energy occupations, employing nearly three times more workers than the fossil fuel industry.
But all the growth came to a screeching halt in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. “The March layoffs are just the first indication of how badly the clean energy industry will be hit by the crisis, with the analysis projecting that more than 500,000 clean energy workers – 15 per cent of the entire clean energy workforce – will lose their jobs in the months ahead,” the E2 report said. “A loss of that magnitude would erase the clean energy industry’s total job growth over the last five years.”
Bob Keefe, executive director of E2 said, “What these numbers tell us is that clean energy workers are a huge and important part of America’s workforce – and they are hurting badly.” Gregory Wetstone, President and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), said, “The renewable sector is being hit hard by supply chain disruptions, shelter-in-place orders and other significant pandemic-related delays.”