July 10, 2020 — The U.S. clean energy sector added 106,320 jobs in June; however, BW Research Partnership’s memo this month provides compelling reasons to exercise caution before pronouncing an overall upward trend. More than half a million (514,270) clean energy workers remain jobless despite reopenings. When factoring in the modest early-June employment gains, cumulative workforce losses in clean energy still amount to a nearly 15% decline throughout the U.S. compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.
About one in six of the jobs lost since March returned in June, due to states’ reopening. But since then, a majority of U.S. states have seen significant viral spread and are pausing or reversing plans. Also:
- the number of permanently unemployed workers is rapidly increasing,
- weekly claims data raise warning signs: later in June, continuing unemployment claims began rising, and
- most Paycheck Protection Program loan funds have been depleted, causing concern for the roughly 2.3 million clean energy workers employed by small businesses who received these loans.
So although June unemployment data shows jobs returning in every clean energy sector, this snapshot doesn’t provide full relief or much reason to celebrate. Details on June gains for energy efficiency, renewable power generation, clean vehicles and fuels along with transmission, distribution and storage for all 50 states can be found in the memo.