US solar jobs increased 9% in 2021 – here’s how it breaks down by sector and state

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Solar energy jobs were up in 47 states and increased 9% percent across the United States from 2020 to 2021, reaching a total of 255,037 solar workers, reports the independent nonprofit Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

According to IREC’s annual National Solar Jobs Census released today, this job growth took place in a year of record solar installations. Overall, the solar industry added 21,563 jobs in 2021, with more than two-thirds of these new jobs (14,350) at installation and project development firms. 

Larry Sherwood, president and CEO at IREC, said:

America’s solar industry came back strong from the pandemic to expand the clean energy  workforce across all regions of the country.

The future remains uncertain in light of the supply chain disruptions, trade issues, and stalled  federal policy in the first part of 2022. There is potential for unprecedented job growth in the  coming years if federal, state, and local leaders take action to expand clean energy use and  address climate change.

Over the past decade, US solar employment has more than doubled from 105,145 jobs in 2011 to 255,037 jobs in 2021. The most significant growth has taken place in the installation and project development sector, where employment more than tripled since 2011 to reach 168,960 jobs in 2021. 

When it comes to the total number of solar jobs at the state level, California continues to lead with 75,712  jobs as of 2021, followed by Florida (11,761 jobs), Massachusetts (10,548 jobs), New York  (10,524 jobs), and Texas (10,346 jobs). Those states are followed by Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Ohio, each with 7,000 to 9,000 jobs.

California also led for the number of jobs added in 2021 (7,035 new jobs), followed by  Massachusetts (+1,053 jobs), Nevada (+1,019 jobs), and Arizona (+932 jobs). Other strong growth states were Ohio, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Georgia, each with 800 to 900 new jobs.

The solar industry needs to up its game when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The report found that women made up just under 30% of the solar workforce in 2021, while Black employees made up 8% of the workforce, Latino or Hispanic workers made up 20%, and Asian workers made up 9%. Fewer than one-third of solar firms reported strategies to increase female, ethnic or racial minority, or LGBTQ+ hires.

And in a year with a tight labor market, 89% of firms reported difficulty finding qualified applicants, and 35% said it was “very difficult.” Only 31% of entry-level solar jobs require a bachelor’s degree, while 65% of firms provide on-the-job training.

According to the 2022 US Energy and Employment Report, clean energy jobs are growing in every sector, and jobs in net-zero emissions aligned areas made up approximately 40% of total energy jobs in 2021.

Read more: GAF Energy to build second US nailable solar shingle factory to meet growing demand

Photo: “Solar Installation at Washington County Landfill (Closed)” by MN Pollution Control Agency is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.


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