Now twice as many solar workers as coal workersA few years ago, the words "green jobs" were on everybody's lips. Yet now that they're actually here and growing fast, it seems like the issue has fallen off the radar screen. That's too bad, because last year the number of solar workers passed the number of coal miners, and this year there are now twice as many solar jobs as coal mining jobs! At 173,807, the number of solar jobs in the US in 2014 is actually closing in on oil and gas extraction jobs (213.1k jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics). That's also a 21.8% rate of growth since the 2013 numbers, and growth for the next 12 months is expected to be above 20% again.
That's 80,000 jobs created just since 2010! And solar is still a relatively small part of the U.S. energy supply (though growing fast). When the industry matures, and other countries start adopting the clean source of energy too, we can expect it to be significantly bigger than it is now. Remember, the U.S. could easily power itself 100x over with just solar power!
By comparison, US businesses have grown the number of jobs at 1.1% in the past year, making the growth in solar jobs around 20x faster!
The reason for the growth in jobs is of course the rapid growth in solar capacity in the country:
Which itself is fuelled by rapidly falling prices, not only for the solar panels themselves, but also for the rest of the systems and installation:
Here are the number of solar jobs by sector and by year, with some projections for 2015:
If the oil prices stay low and U.S. shale oil extraction becomes uneconomic, maybe oil workers can find a new career in clean energy...