January 13, 2021 — Ten months into the unemployment crisis, 70% of the jobs lost in the U.S. clean energy sector have not returned. Although the sector gained 16,900 jobs in December, much uncertainty remains, while COVID-19 cases continued to spike.
According to a new analysis by BW Research Partnership clean energy workers lost 429,000 jobs in 2020, representing a 12% decline from the pre-pandemic baseline for this robust and historically fast-growing workforce. For the first time, the sector ended a year with fewer workers than when it began. December’s results show a clean energy sector growth rate of 0.6%.
“What we witnessed in December was more like inertia than recovery for clean energy sector employment,” said E4TheFuture’s policy director Pat Stanton. “We have a lot of work to do. The type of energy jobs that will help us to recover from losses endured in 2020 must be prioritized — and that means focusing on workforce development and training in 2021.”
Energy efficiency, renewable energy, grid modernization, clean vehicles and fuels are detailed in the BW Research memo, which provides statistics for all 50 states.
The whole U.S. economy lost 95,000 jobs over the previous month.
“These lost jobs were primarily outside of clean energy and fall in industries like leisure and hospitality, educational services, and other services,” states the memo. “While the recent jobs report shows an employment plateau for the economy at-large, alarming trends remain.” Impacts of the pandemic-fueled job crisis continue to disproportionately impact women and Black and Hispanic workers. Women—particularly women of color—and Hispanic workers lost jobs overall in December.
FEB. 2021 NOTE: This memo has been revised and is available here. The numbers presented in the original Jan. 13, 2021 memo are based on data issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on Jan. 8, 2021. An update to that data was made by the BLS in its Feb. 5, 2021 Employment Situation report.