US sees solar jobs slump, but future remains bright

The US solar sector saw a slump of nearly 8,000 jobs, or 3.2 percent, over the 2018 year, according to new data released by the Solar Foundation.

The National Solar Jobs Census tracked two consecutive years of job loses throughout the country.

“Despite two challenging years, the long-term outlook for this industry remains positive as even more Americans turn to low-cost solar energy and storage solutions to power their homes and businesses,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director at The Solar Foundation.

The report concluded that the decline in jobs has been in most part due to regulatory and tariff uncertainty surrounding utility-scale projects throughout the US.

Other key findings from the National Solar Jobs Census 2018 include:

  • Approximately 155,000 solar jobs, or two-thirds of the total, are in the installation and project development sector. Of these, about 87,000 jobs (56 percent) are focused on the residential market segment. The non-residential segment includes 46,000 jobs (30 percent), including about 12,500 jobs in community solar. The utility-scale market comprises 22,000 jobs (14 percent).

  • Solar workforce demographics saw little change from the previous year. In 2018, women made up 26 percent of the workforce; Latino or Hispanic workers made up 17 percent; black or African American workers made up 8 percent; and Asian workers made up 9 percent.

  • In 2018, 26 percent of solar establishments reported it was “very difficult” to find qualified candidates to fill open positions, a substantial increase from the 18 percent reporting such challenges in 2017.

  • With a backlog of utility-scale projects and new policy incentives in key states, the outlook for solar jobs is expected to improve in 2019. Survey respondents predict that solar jobs will increase 7 percent in 2019, bringing the total to 259,400 jobs.

The full report can be found here

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