Since the economic crash of 2008, unemployment in the U.S. has continued to climb at an alarming rate. With few markets able to find a stable solution, many industries have been forced to take a pause in the hiring process. Even with unemployment at such high rates, however, solar jobs in the U.S. have continued to grow. In fact, according to the 2011 National Census Findings from The Solar Foundation, solar jobs are growing at nearly 10 times the rate of employment as a whole within the U.S.
Today, there are almost 17,200 solar employment sites, helping to create more than 100,00o jobs in the U.S. alone. With the solar job growth rate at nearly 7% over this previous year, more than 6,700 new solar jobs were created. These jobs not only provide employees with a stable flow of income but help stimulate the economy, supplying it with some much needed cash flow. They will also help make future PV systems more affordable as more skilled laborers entering the solar industry will lower associated installation costs.
While solar jobs have shown substantial gains during poor economic conditions, Andrea Luecke, the executive director of The Solar Foundation, claims employment within the solar industry is expected to see even greater growth in the near future. Recently, many experts and professionals involved with solar have had great optimism towards the industry as a whole. According to the 2011 National Census it is expected that at least 50% of solar firms will add jobs within the next year and could increase the total number of solar jobs by 24%, representing nearly 24,000 jobs.
In order for solar jobs and the industry as whole to continue to see this beneficial growth, Luecke believes several things must be done:
- Promotions to encourage investments in solar must be done at both the state and federal levels.
- Solar workforce training providers must offer their knowledge to a full spectrum of possible jobs through coordination with local employers
- The business community must continue to spread their knowledge on solar and work with state and local government to keep and improve incentives.
Although the future is never certain, Solar Jobs within the U.S. should continue to grow over the next several years. With solar pv technology becoming cheaper and more efficient new jobs will continue to be created. However, with important government incentives like the 1603 Treasury Program set to expire at the end of this year it is vital that they get renewed. To ensure this happens and for solar jobs to maintain their beneficial impact on the U.S. economy everyone from industry leaders to small solar installers must play their part in spreading the word on Solar.