Clean Energy Jobs: August 2020 Brings Anemic Growth, Worrisome Trend

September 14, 2020 — Although the U.S. clean energy sector added 13,600 jobs in August, according to a new analysis by BW Research Partnership, nearly half a million workers remain unemployed. The figure represents a more than 14% decline from early 2020 for this previously robust and fast-growing energy workforce. Despite nationwide re-openings, the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 continues to negatively impact clean energy businesses.

August’s 0.4% employment gain of 8,100 jobs for energy efficiency, and statistics for renewable power generation, clean vehicles and fuels plus transmission, distribution and storage for all 50 states are detailed in the memo.

“While any net return of jobs is welcome, let’s remember that energy efficiency jobs are still down by more than 345,000 from the start of this year,” said E4TheFuture’s policy director Pat Stanton. “If it weren’t for the pandemic, this sector would likely have grown by at least 25,000 jobs from March until now.”

In August no state, nor clean energy sector, was a significant job loser or gainer. However, “Black and Hispanic workers continue to suffer from disproportionately high levels of unemployment,” according to the BW Research memo that provides key insight into employment specifics. These factors represent a worrisome trend:

  • rise in permanent unemployment
  • sharp increase in long-term unemployment rate
  • effects of continued viral spread
  • exhaustion of earlier stimulus programs

Clean energy jobs had been growing 70% faster than the overall U.S. economy 2015-2019. But over 40 states continue to suffer double digit unemployment in clean energy as of August 2020.

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