Pandemic Wiped out 429,000 Clean Energy Jobs in USA in 2020: Report

Due to the hard-hitting impacts of the pandemic, the US clean energy industry finished 2020 with its fewest number of workers/ jobs since 2015.

Due to the hard-hitting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the clean energy industry finished 2020 with its fewest number of workers since 2015. It also marked the first year clean energy saw a decline in jobs compared to the previous year. About 16,900 jobs were added in December by US clean energy businesses, leaving more than 429,000 (12 percent of the sector’s pre-COVID-19 workforce) still unemployed, 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 monthly report, ten months after the nationwide unemployment crisis began, 70 percent of the jobs lost in the clean energy sector have yet to be recovered. At the rate of recovery since June, it would take about two and a half years for the clean energy sector to reach pre-COVID employment levels. It would take an additional year to reach the levels of clean energy employment that had been projected for 2020 before the pandemic struck.

Impacts of the pandemic-fueled job crisis continue to disproportionately impact women and Black and Hispanic workers. Women—particularly women of colour—and Hispanic workers lost jobs overall in December despite total clean energy employment growing slightly, at a rate of 0.6 percent.

Bob Keefe, Executive Director of E2, said “the new year, a new administration and a new Congress bring new hope for federal action revitalising our economy and our environment with clean energy-focused recovery. The need to act is clear: We just lived through the costliest year ever for climate disasters. And facing the largest economic downturn since 2009, we know we’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to jobs and other economic benefits that come with clean energy. Washington must go big, go fast and go now.”

The report further added that no clean energy employment sector grew by more than 0.7 percent in December. Energy efficiency saw the strongest employment growth, adding 12,300 jobs. It was followed by renewable energy (2,700) and clean transmission, distribution and storage (750).

Pandemic Clean Energy 2020

For the states, it added that the 38 states and DC are still suffering double-digit unemployment in clean energy, with 12 states experiencing unemployment of 15 percent or more. Georgia continued to have the highest rate, with over 30 percent of its clean energy workforce still unemployed, followed by Kentucky at 27 percent. In December, Hawaii had the sector’s highest growth rate at 1.2 percent while California again saw the largest total increase in jobs with 3,300 positions added (0.7 percent). Florida, Illinois, New York, North Carolina, and Texas all added more than 600 jobs, while 15 states added fewer than 100 each.

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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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