Solar employers are optimistic about the industry in 2013, expecting it add nearly 20,000 new jobs.
According to a new report, an increase in system installers, sales and distribution, and other other services is helping solar manufacturing grow in the United States, making industry officials optimistic about outcomes in 2013.
The annual National Solar Jobs Census, recorded by the Solar Foundation, finds the industry has grown 13.2% over 2011, supporting 119,016 jobs across all 50 states. Solar installation companies employ 17.5% more workers, and sales and distribution jobs has grown 23.1%.
Solar employers responded to the census, saying they expect the industry to grow by 17.2% over the next 12 months, representing an addition of 20,000 new jobs for Americans.
“These results are clear the U.S. solar industry is strong and growing, and we are putting Americans back to work,” says Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. As the cost of solar continues to come down, more companies and homeowners are turning to solar for their electricity and hot water. This increase in demand for solar energy is creating economic opportunities throughout the U.S. Going forward, we expect a record year for new solar projects and corresponding job growth in 2013. This should serve as a signal to policymakers that clean energy policies are doing what they were intended to do—grow our economy."
The Solar Foundation and BW Research surveyed more than 1,000 solar companies, with technical assistance from Cornell University, examining employment through the solar value chain.
The solar industry's good fortune did not extend across all manufacturing subsectors. More than 8,000 manufacturing jobs were eliminated from 2011, according to the census, but Resche says the numbers will bounce back.
“While manufacturer jobs losses are unfortunate, this is a sign of a maturing and highly-competitive global industry. We’ve seen this consolidation trend in other industries, and we’ll see it again. Still, more than 1,000 solar manufacturers operate in the U.S., and with strong demand expected in 2013, they are positioned to make a rebound. This makes it all the more important to continue smart federal and state solar policies that drive private sector investment,” Resch explains.