Wind Energy

Published on April 15th, 2020 | by greentechheadlines


Clean energy job losses mount as COVID-19’s economic toll continues

Clean energy job losses mount as COVID-19’s economic toll continues

106,000 jobs in clean energy
lost in March.
More than a year’s worth of job
gains erased in a few weeks.
Analysis forecasts industry
could lose more than 500K jobs in months ahead.

More than 106,000 clean energy workers lost their jobs in the month of March, and hundreds of thousands more clean energy job losses are projected in the coming months. That’s according to a new analysis of unemployment data released today by E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), E4TheFuture and BW Research Partnership.

analysis of Department of Labor data 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. These 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.

energy has been one of the U.S. economy’s biggest and fastest-growing
employment sectors over the past decade, growing 10.4 percent since 2015.
According to a separate report released today
by E2, U.S. clean energy jobs increased to nearly 3.4 million at the end of

Clean Jobs America 2020  found
the industry accounted for more than half of the entire energy sector’s job growth
in 2019, adding more than 70,000 jobs for a 2.2 percent growth rate – a faster
pace than the U.S. workforce as a whole. 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.

all that 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 percent of
the entire clean energy workforce – will lose their jobs in the months ahead, unless
Congress and the Trump administration take quick and substantive action.

loss of that magnitude would erase the clean energy industry’s total job growth
over the last five years.

“This analysis quantifies in stark terms the damage COVID-19 is already doing to the renewable energy workforce, and the devastating trajectory we’re facing absent help from Congress. The renewable sector is being hit hard by supply chain disruptions, shelter-in-place orders and other significant pandemic-related delays. To stem job losses, we ask Congress to extend the time-sensitive deadlines faced by renewable projects seeking to qualify for critical tax incentives, and to provide temporary refundability for renewable tax credits that are increasingly difficult to monetize., said Gregor Whetstone, President and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE).

Hit Hardest

to the unemployment data analysis,
energy efficiency lost more jobs than any other sector of the clean energy
industry in March, with nearly 70,000 people losing their jobs. The losses in
the energy efficiency sector accounted for about two-thirds of all clean energy
unemployment filings – as electricians, plumbers, construction workers, energy
auditors and others were unable to enter homes, offices and other buildings
because of coronavirus quarantines.

energy lost more than 16,000 lost jobs, and filings are expected to increase
substantially in the coming weeks as solar and wind energy companies struggle
with sudden and massive financing issues that are resulting in canceled and
delayed projects.

clean vehicle sector was also severely impacted, losing 12,000 jobs in
factories that manufacture electric and hybrid vehicles and the parts that go
in them. This represents the largest percentage job loss —4.5 percent — of any
clean energy sector. This does not include the 20,000 workers that Tesla Inc. furloughed,
or other losses posted after this March data was collected.

States Hit Across Country

State Unemployment
106,472 3.10%
California 19,949 3.60%
6,800 5.90%
Pennsylvania 6,068 6.20%
Massachusetts 5,611 4.40%
Michigan 5,446 4.10%
New York 4,789 2.90%
Ohio 4,719 4.10%
Texas 4,246 1.70%
Washington 3,940 4.40%
Illinois 3,326 2.60%

Trend Upended

widespread layoffs in clean energy risk derailing an industry that was leading
the country in job creation. At the start of 2020, clean energy employment
increased for the fifth straight year, growing to nearly 3.4 million workers
nationwide. Renewable energy led the way, increasing 3.2 percent to about 523,000

efficiency continues to be the single largest section of the clean energy economy,
employing 2.4 million Americans at the end of 2019, up 2.3 percent from 2018
despite federal rollbacks and delays of energy efficiency standards.

clean vehicle sector was the only clean energy sector that saw job declines in
2019, dropping 2.3 percent to more than 266,000 jobs, in part because of
industry uncertainty about rollbacks of federal vehicle emissions and mileage
standards, which were recently finalized. The sector’s job losses come after a
record-setting year in 2018 that saw the clean vehicle industry grow 17 percent
and add more than 40,000 jobs.


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