Home / #Solutions / Paradigm Shift — Solar & Wind Jobs Growing 12 Times Faster Than US Economy

Paradigm Shift — Solar & Wind Jobs Growing 12 Times Faster Than US Economy

In yet another indication that the clean energy revolution is well underway, a new report finds that solar and wind jobs are growing 12 times as fast as rest of the U.S. economy. These jobs have grown by about 20 percent annually in recent years.

The report from the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) notes that renewable energy jobs, totaling about 769,000 by the end of 2015, experienced “a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of nearly 6% since 2012,” while “fossil fuel extraction and support services slumped, with a -4.25% CAGR over the same period.”

Market forces are driving this phenomenon, due to dramatic reductions in manufacturing and installation costs, coupled with stagnant demand for oil and coal. Unsubsidized solar is now as cheap as coal and natural gas and even wind in emerging markets, and solar prices will continue to rapidly fall.

What’s more, these renewable energy jobs cannot be outsourced due to their on-site nature and they pay above average wages.

Many jobs in the solar and energy efficiency space are in installation, maintenance and construction, making these jobs inherently local and contributing to the growth of local economies. Average wages for energy efficiency jobs are almost $5,000 above the national median, and wages for solar workers are above the national median of $17.04 per hour.

Sustainability jobs – meaning those in energy efficiency and renewable energy, as well as in waste reduction, natural resources conservation and environmental education – now total 4-4.5 million in the U.S., up from 3.4 million in 2011.

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Energy efficiency jobs represent about half of these jobs at 2.2 million, the majority of which are in small businesses with 10 employees or fewer. Investing in this sector is wise, as “energy efficiency investments create more jobs than those in fossil fuel industries: estimated at approximately 8 jobs (direct and indirect) per $1M invested compared to about 3 jobs in fossil fuels.”

As we reported in January, the solar industry employed more people in electricity generation than gas, coal and oil combined. Cheap solar and natural gas prices – not government policy – have been driving coal out of the market since 2006.

Trillions of dollars will be invested worldwide in clean energy over the coming decades, and utility companies in the U.S. have already focused on clean energy due to a variety of factors including the predicted continual drop in prices.

All of this means that any efforts by the Trump administration and new Congress to prop up fossil fuels and stymie clean energy would bring a severe detriment to economic and job growth. Trump has been harping on ‘bringing back coal jobs,’ but as Bloomberg News points out, “renewable energy provides five times more jobs than coal mines.”

Not to mention the fact that mountaintop removal – the preferred method of coal companies – obliterates vast swaths of forested habitat and fills streams and valleys with toxic waste. The pollution from coal mining degrades the health of nearby communities where coal miners live. The health impact of fossil fuel burning is estimated at $74.6 billion every year.

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Bloomberg notes that solar and wind jobs, totaling more than 300,000 in the U.S. in 2016, are “a significant source of employment in many of the rural red states that supported Donald Trump’s campaign.”

We’re hiring workers in the rust belt,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “We’re helping families keep farms they’ve held for generations. The lifeblood of our industry is in rural America.

Most indications at the moment are that Trump and his cadre of fossil fuel advocates set to run federal agencies plan to cut clean energy research and development programs. While the free market will continue pushing our energy paradigm toward renewable energy, a federal government working against the tide could mean that the U.S. misses out on the economic opportunity of the clean energy revolution.

  • DemocracyRules


    • DemocracyRules
      • DemocracyRules

        Co2 levels are now declining. The authors of this research conclude that the planet’s vegetation is increasing rapidly, soaking up the Co2.

        • JP

          Umm, CO2 levels are rising, not declining, as any chart based on actual atmospheric data will tell you. Such as NASA, unless you think they’re lying and everyone else is keeping the secret.
          Also it’s been known for a long time that plants, especially grasses, will soak up more CO2 and “green up” but it doesn’t negate the fact that CO2 and all greenhouse gases (methane, nitrous oxide, etc.) are rising.

          • DemocracyRules

            No it’s declining. This is new data.

          • JP

            The article is talking about a slowdown in the GROWTH RATE of atmospheric CO2, not actual CO2 levels. The graph’s blue line is referring to the “airborne fraction” of CO2. Read the results section for a detailed analysis. Actually, thanks for pointing out this interesting article. If you read it with an open mind you might find some of your faulty assumptions challenged.
            Regarding your other bewildering rants about socialism and capitalism and so forth, I didn’t really seen any point in responding as they have nothing to do with the point of the article. The information in the article is actually an argument for capitalism, being that market forces are driving this incredible shift toward clean energy. It really puzzles me as to why some supposed free market advocates bash renewable energy and all the technology and economic opportunity it brings.

          • DemocracyRules

            Yes and as this growth rate declines, it will eventually go negative. There is no correlation between industrial Co2 output, and atmospheric Co2. This demolishes the entire global warming argument. No correlation = no causation.

            Remember, the burden of proof is upon you. If some observations support your claims, and others do not, then the null hypothesis remains true. There is no global warming. You must explain ALL the data, including the data that disproves global warming.

            Meanwhile, the data that supports the Socialist Illusion Theory of Global Warming grows steadily stronger. We now have a horse race between two theories, with the illusion theory winning.

          • DemocracyRules

            There is no need for you to reply to any of my comments. I did not invite them, and I have remained respectful throughout. But your descent into insults only confirms my point. Authoritarian socialists attempt to insult, bully, and threaten. Scientists engage in civil discourse.

            As I said earlier, if I do nothing, Global Warming Theory will disappear with the NOAA fakery and other fraudulent publications. It’s as doomed as the killer bee scare. “Block User”

          • JP

            Omfg you are a fine example of willfull ignorance that allows one to deny science. “yes and as the growth rate declines it will eventually go negative.” lol, wish much? The paper even said the decline in growth rate was a “pause” but you just choose to ignore these things, like so many others facts.
            “There is no correlation between industrial CO2 output and atmopheric CO2.” Gawd where do you get this stuff? How much deliberate ignorance do you have to have to believe this? I will add, however, that deforestation is also a contributor to increases CO2 levels.
            All your bs about a null hypothesis is a pathetic attempt to cover up the fact that you don’t really know what you are talking about. I had to explain that your graph was not actually showing what you said it showed, which tells me all I need to know about your poor grasp on science.
            Yeah, I’m tired of being nice to people who take their misunderstanding and turn it into grand claims of conspiracy and deception about science. No, you haven’t remained respectful. When I politely pointed out the fallacies of your original posts you launched into tirades about socialism and authoritarianism. Go to Breitbart if you want to do that.
            The article on this site didn’t even mention global warming but you went ahead and hijacked it in the comments. Since we are here, though, the conclusion that most of the observed warming is due to anthropogenic greenhouse gases is a scientific consensus as strong as gravity and evolution.
            I’m done here. Bye bye

          • Kevin Joncas

            NASA has admitted that they were fabricating the data and apologized for doing so. They were forced into it by Obama issuing a directive to move a large portion of space exploration money to climate change and they were well aware of what results they were to produce. Try something called research,which I am sure you have never heard of.

          • JP

            NASA is not the only one collecting CO2 data. These data are collected around the world and disseminated by more than one climate science entity. The data are replicated and verified, and they all show steadily rising CO2 levels.
            But I understand the easiest way to deny a conclusion is to deny the basic facts and paint some grand conspiracy of lies and deception. Also to post dubious charts from unnamed sources, as “DemocracyRules” did above.

          • DemocracyRules

            28% now believe in global warming (Pew Research). This number continues to decline, as the cooling continues and the lies pile up. Global interest in global warming peaked in 2007, and it is now no more interesting than “Gold Fish” (Google Trends). Authoritarian socialists believe it, no one else does.

            Authoritarian socialists are obsessed with the Marxist idea that capitalism is is bad, and it will inevitably collapse. Aka, the “The Crisis of Capitalism.” Thus, they constantly search for something that will pull the pin, and trigger the collapse. So your new ideas, your avant garde of science, are bogged down in 1848.

            I’m doing you a favor by commenting here. Gibbled Warming will continue to die out on its own. Socialism will also disappear, because capitalism is rapidly erasing world poverty.

          • DemocracyRules

            As the GDP per capita increases continuously, world poverty decreases.

          • DemocracyRules
          • DemocracyRules

            Poverty is caused by emotional, behavioral and/or intellectual problems. Capitalist exploitation is not the cause of poverty

          • DemocracyRules

            Socialists are obsessed with wealth redistribution. But economic growth comes form free enterprise.

          • DemocracyRules

            The massive increase in global wealth started with the industrial revolution in about 1800. Until then, for the 200,000 years of our species, life expectancy was about 37, and income was about $1 per person per day. Now life expectancy is about 80 in free-enterprise democracies, and constantly rising. For the first time in history. And income is also shooting thought he roof. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b69268cc3e88aa155dc7ccea277cf7ca42b59dfdcf3a0c826927d74e70c8c76b.jpg

          • DemocracyRules
          • Kevin Joncas

            I was commenting on TEMPERATURE being manipulated .You are talking about CO2. Try to focus. Or at least read the article.Not that there is much chance of that.

          • JP

            You didn’t say temperature in the post I responded to, and we were talking about CO2 levels, not temperature. Consider that before launching into ridicule.
            NASA isn’t lying to us about temps and there is no grand conspiracy by scientists to deceive the public. Other agencies and organizations around the world also record temperatures, and data is compared to other data so everyone remains accurate.

          • vongoh

            There’s no grand conspiracy by scientists. The grand conspiracy comes from a much higher level than that, and it is subsequently joined by the politicians and media dancing on oligarch strings and following the dangled carrot of a more prominent role at the globalist’s table.

            Among the science community: they only need to know where their grant money is coming from, what will happen to them if they speak out against the herd: loss of status in the herd, demotion in the pecking order, ridicule, ejection from the community of peers and possible loss of the grant money.

            They don’t even need to be an active participant or even be aware of / believe in the overarching conspiracy. All of that is enough on its own.

            Research humans. It’s amazing what you can see when you observe your own species without blinders on – such as the irrational belief that scientists are all impartial data driven arbiters of truth, immune to the less than admirable motivations, weaknesses, and social / economic pressures that everyone else is.

      • JP

        Posting one graph of world energy production for one year does not negate anything in the article, which is mostly about U.S. jobs, nor does it show the dramatic trends toward clean energy taking place in the U.S. and other regions.

        • DemocracyRules

          The null hypothesis suggests that wind, biofuels, and solar contribute nothing to world energy. It is your responsibility to disprove the null hypothesis. But you cannot, because you are not a scientist. A scientist welcomes countervailing data, because it tests his hypothesis. You reject dissent, disagreement, and countervailing data. You are an authoritarian socialist, from the same school as Lysenko. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d6db6f68fdbc8076e8f51a55c85eea7f2d3b4b3726afea3ca553d36f82a04759.jpg

          • rlw120

            As diatribes go, not scientific. And you’ve got the null hypothesis all wrong.

          • DemocracyRules

            I understand the null hypothesis very well, having taught it at universities
            for many years. Explain how the a man-made global warming hypothesis
            clearly and unequivocal disproves this null hypothesis; “There is no
            change in global climate variations.”

            The burden of proof rest entirely upon you. In the meantime, there is no phenomenon.

            consensus has no value for the null hypothesis. Truth is irrelevant to
            opinion. Remember also that extraordinary claims require extraordinary
            evidence. Your data must also explain why there is a strong
            statistically significant link between socialist thinking, and belief in
            global warming. There should be no correlation between politics and
            scientific truth. But in this case there is.

            The problem is this
            hypothesis: “Belief in global warming is caused by socialist thinking.”
            There is ample evidence for this hypothesis, and your proof must
            explain why your hypothesis is true, and why the socialist illusion
            hypothesis is untrue.

            You will also have to account for
            scientific cheating just observed with the recent NOAA data presented to
            the Paris conference. Cheating is consistent with the socialist
            illusion hypothesis. (“Morality is that which serves the revolution”).
            But tit is not consistent with the assertion that all published data
            about global warming is accurate.

          • JP

            Lol, so quick to jump to straw man ad hom fallacies. “contribute nothing to world energy” is a statement of belief, not something subject to scientific hypotheses. It is pure and simple data. You choose to make your qualification of “contributing nothing” or “significant contribution.” Again, nothing you have posted negates anything in the article.

          • DemocracyRules

            So you guys didn’t do very well with the USSR. eh? Any idea why?

          • DemocracyRules

            That is the null hypothesis. Nothing. It is up to you to prove otherwise. And you haven’t. So the null hypothesis still stands.

  • Milk Man

    This is PURE BULLSHIT…..as the people in the industry …..DOGSHIT NEWS…period

  • Mark Skinner

    Milk Man your argument is not very persuasive. This is the answer to the people who said that stopping the use of fossil fuels would “wreck the economy”. I know a guy who works in a shop that sells products that are good for saving power and money, and another 2 of my mates are working to help set up a solar array of reflectors, that when finished will provide enough power to serve a city of 2 million people. Far from destroying the economy !

    • DemocracyRules

      Ad hominem arguments are not useful for large population studies.
      The population under study is N= 7.4 billion people. Your evidence rests on an N=3 individuals. The two million you speak of may well have been helped more cost-effectively with coal-fired power generation.

  • tz1

    Amazing what Government largess, subsidy, and regulation can do.

    Adam Smith on the Herring Bounty:
    “Secondly, the bounty to the white-herring fishery is a tonnage bounty;
    and is proportioned to the burden of the ship, not to her diligence or
    success in the fishery; and it has, I am afraid, been too common for
    vessels to fit out for the sole purpose of catching, not the fish, but
    the bounty”

    Regulate fossil fuels out of business and effectively make me – the taxpayer pay for the Solyndra and A123 nonsense, and of course it grows fast.

    If the government subsidized phrenology to the same extent, it would grow to the same extenet

  • Steve Rusk

    When these projects come to a community, those under it’s footprint have no rights. My property was worth $73,000 prior to the Blue Creek Wind Farm, it last sold for $16,500. I have not been compensated for losses from this disaster. 10038 Elm Sugar Rd. Scott, Ohio


  • alexandra

    Visit Ontario Canada and look at the non moving windmills.. ask any farmer that allowed them to be leased on their land.. what is the ouput.. and then ask again why people of Ontario are paying more on Hydro Bills than any other province?

  • DemocracyRules