COVID-19 Surge Leaves 446,000 US Clean Energy Workers Unemployed: Report

As COVID-19 cases surged in the US, fewer than 8,000 jobs were added by US clean energy businesses in November, leaving more than 446,000 unemployed

COVID-19 Clean Energy

Clean energy companies added the fewest number of jobs in November since unemployment peaked in May, as COVID-19 cases and shutdowns in the US surged to their highest levels since the pandemic first hit and triggered America’s historic unemployment crisis. Fewer than 8,000 jobs were added by US clean energy businesses in November, leaving more than 446,000 (13 percent of the sector’s workforce) unemployed heading into the holidays, according to the latest analysis of federal unemployment filings prepared for E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), E4TheFuture and the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) by BW Research Partnership.

According to the latest monthly report, seven out of 10 clean energy workers who lost their jobs since the beginning of the crisis remain out of work. With November’s meagre job growth, employment in clean energy — once the nation’s fastest-growing job sector — has grown by less than half a percent in four of the last five months. 

Gregory Wetstone, President and CEO of ACORE, said “more than 70,000 renewable energy workers in America remain out of a job because of the COVID-19 pandemic. If policymakers are serious about getting Americans back to work in high-quality, good-paying jobs, they should enact common sense emergency relief measures for the clean energy sector in must-pass legislation this year. Delaying the scheduled phase-down of renewable credits and making them temporarily refundable would enable renewable developers to immediately resume their hiring and help power our nation’s economic recovery.”

The report adds that at the current rate of recovery, seen since June, it would take about three years for the clean energy sector to reach pre-COVID employment levels. It would take an additional 14 months to reach the levels of clean energy employment projected for 2020 before the pandemic struck. 

Sandra Purohit, E2 Federal Advocacy Director said, “If Congress fails to include targeted clean energy stimulus before the end of the year, the sector will face a terrible trifecta: rising COVID closures, declining job growth, compounded by the automatic weakening of federal support. Now is the time to bolster the job-creating power of clean energy, not undercut it.”

The dismal jobs outlook comes just as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is scheduled to decline to 22 percent, and the Production Tax Credit (PTC) is scheduled to phase out completely at the end of the year. Without congressional action on these key tax policies in the next three weeks, clean energy businesses will face declining federal support on top of rising COVID cases and closures.

COVID-19 Clean Energy

As per the report, no clean energy sector grew by more than 0.3 percent in November. Energy efficiency had the highest total job growth, adding 5,400 jobs. It was followed by renewable energy (1,348) and clean vehicles (646). Forty states and the District of Columbia still suffer double-digit unemployment in clean energy, with five states experiencing unemployment of 20 percent or more. Unemployed COVID-19 

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Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.

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