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The Solar Foundation Census 2013 Finds U.S. Solar Jobs Grew 20% Since Last Year

The Solar Foundation 

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On January 27th, 2014, The Solar Foundation released its highly anticipated National Solar Jobs Census 2013, which found that the U.S. solar industry employed 142,698 Americans as of November 2013. This figure includes the addition of 23,682 solar workers over the previous year, representing 19.9 percent growth in employment since September 2012. During the period covered by the Census, solar employment grew 10 times faster than the national average employment rate of 1.9 percent. This growth rate is also significant in that it shows – for the first time ever – the solar industry exceeded the growth projections made in the previous year’s report.

Noteworthy findings from Census 2013 include:

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• Seventy-seven percent of the nearly 24,000 new solar workers since September 2012 are new jobs, rather than existing positions that have added solar responsibilities, representing 18,211 new jobs created. 

• This comparison indicates that since data were collected for Census 2012, one in every 142 new jobs in the U.S. was created by the solar industry, and many more were saved by creating additional work opportunities for existing employees.

• Installers added the most solar workers over the past year, growing by 22%, an increase of 12,500 workers.

• Solar employment is expected to grow by 15.6% over the next 12 months, representing the addition of approximately 22,240 new solar workers. Forty-five percent of all solar establishments expect to add solar employees during this period. 

• Employers from each of the solar industry sectors examined in this study expect significant employment growth over the next 12 months, with nearly all of them projecting percentage job growth in the double-digits.

• Approximately 91% of those who meet our definition of a “solar worker” (those workers who spend at least 50% of their time supporting solar-related activities) spent 100% of their time working on solar. 

• Wages paid by solar firms are competitive, with the average solar installer earning between $20.00 (median) and $23.63 (mean) per hour, which is comparable to wages paid to skilled electricians and plumbers and higher than average rates for roofers and construction workers. Production and assembly workers earn slightly less, averaging $15.00 (median) to $18.23 (mean) per hour, slightly more than the national average for electronic equipment assemblers.

• The solar industry is a strong employer of veterans of the U.S. Armed Services, who constitute 9.24% of all solar workers – compared with 7.57% in the national economy. Solar employs a slightly larger proportion of Latino/Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander workers than the overall economy.

 
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