U.S. Solar Job Creation Is ‘Booming,’ California Ranks No. 1


The Solar Foundation, an independent nonprofit research and education organization, has released state-by-state data from its annual National Solar Jobs Census series via the State Solar Jobs Census Map.

The new numbers show that California not only maintained its No. 1 spot in 2015, but also created over 20,000 new solar jobs last year – a 38% increase – and became the first state to surpass the 75,000 solar jobs benchmark.

The California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA) has praised local policymakers for their continued support of this new clean energy market, pointing to recent decisions around net metering, extension of the federal investment tax credit, and the state’s 50% by 2030 renewable portfolio standard.

“Solar power is a bright spot in California’s economy, bringing jobs and economic development to every corner of the state,” says Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the CALSEIA. “While conventional energy industries are losing jobs, we are seeing record growth and bringing clean air and climate solutions along the way.”

According to The Solar Foundation, Massachusetts solidified the No. 2 position in 2015 while becoming the second state to have more than 15,000 solar jobs. In addition to California and Massachusetts: Nevada, Florida, Maryland, Tennessee, Oregon, Michigan, and Utah are among the top 20 solar jobs states that grew by 30% or more.

“Solar power not only helps protect our environment and health – it helps accelerate our economic success,” says Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. “This is another example of how Colorado’s diverse energy economy contributes to our overall growth and stability. We are pleased that the solar industry continues to find Colorado a good state for business.”

“Massachusetts is home to a thriving clean energy economy with innovative companies, world-class research institutions and a skilled workforce, and we’re proud that the commonwealth continues to maintain its national clean energy leadership position,” adds Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.

The Solar Foundation says 33 states, including the District of Columbia, saw positive solar jobs growth in 2015 over the previous year, and many states experienced double-digit increases.

“Solar job creation is booming across the country. California’s 20,000 new jobs marks an industry milestone – but states like Utah, Colorado, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Virginia demonstrate the regional diversity of the industry’s growth,” says Andrea Luecke, president and executive director of The Solar Foundation. “Our data since 2012 show that half the states in the country have at least doubled their solar workforce.”

The Solar Foundation notes this is the first year it has tracked solar jobs by congressional district for all 50 states – providing information for nearly all 436 federal congressional districts and more than 6,000 state legislative districts. The organization says there are now 61 federal congressional districts with at least 1,000 solar jobs; 132 districts with more than 500; and 222 districts with 250 or more solar industry jobs.

Other key rankings from the State Solar Jobs Census include the following:

Most Solar Jobs: 1. California, 2. Massachusetts, 3. Nevada, 4. New York, 5. New Jersey.

Highest % Solar Jobs Growth: 1. Rhode Island, 2. South Carolina, 3. Nebraska, 4. Tennessee, 5. Louisiana.

Most Solar Jobs Per Capita: 1. Nevada 2. Vermont, 3. Hawaii, 4. California, 5. Massachusetts.

Highest % Solar Capacity Growth 2014-15 (estimated): 1. South Carolina, 2. Utah, 3. Georgia, 4. Oregon, 5. New Hampshire.

The Solar Foundation and BW Research Partnership conducted the State Census effort. More information can be found at solarstates.org.

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