Economic Impact of the Clean Energy Sectors

Economic Impact of the Clean Energy Sectors


The clean energy industry is having a huge economic impact in every state in the nation. Clean Jobs America, by BW Research Partnership, provides a detailed breakdown of clean energy jobs not available previously.

More than 2.5 million Americans work in the industry, outnumbering traditional job sectors like real estate and agriculture. And vastly more people work in these new cleaner jobs than work in the traditional energy industries like oil, gas and coal extraction, according to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The study points out that energy efficiency is the nation’s largest clean energy sector employer, with almost 1.9 million working in areas such as high-efficiency lighting, Energy Star appliance manufacturing and high-efficiency heating and air conditioning services for homes, schools, and businesses.

The second biggest employment sector is renewable energy production totaling almost 414,000 workers. Solar energy accounts for the majority of these jobs with almost 300,000, and wind farm production employing another 77,000 nationwide.

In fact the American Wind Energy Association recently released new data that showed a total of $222 million goes to rural landowners annually for the use of their land as wind farms. The vast majority of the cash, $156 million, goes directly to owners in counties with below average incomes.

“The rapid growth of wind energy largely benefits rural communities, including some of the most economically distressed parts of the US,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA.

The other clean energy sector numbers are almost as impressive, and are growing every year. More than 328,000 people work in the energy efficient lighting industry, and another 162,000 help build Energy Star appliances. 

And finally almost 170,000 Americans work in the advanced vehicle industry, including 107,000 who work on hybrids and electric vehicles. The strength in this industry comes in part from new fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles and trucks, as well as advances in alternative fuel technologies like ethanol.

Clean energy is no longer a niche business – it's a big-time job creator,"
- said Dan Smolen, managing director of The Green Suits, a Virginia-based talent recruitment and career development firm.

Our lawmakers need to realize that – and put policies in place, right now, to help the sector grow even more."

The report was based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics information and new data from the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as survey responses from 20,000 U.S. companies.

“America’s clean energy jobs market is massive,” said Philip Jordan, vice president and principal at BW Research Partnership. “It ranks right up there with some of the biggest industries in the country – including real estate, management, and agriculture.”

According to E2’s Executive Director, Bob Keefe, the driving forces behind this exponential growth are state energy efficiency and renewable standards, federal tax incentives, and other policies.

“When we spoke with clean energy employers nationwide, we were struck by their responsiveness to state- and federal-level policies as well as their optimism,” Jordan said. “It’s clear that by shoring up clean energy policies, lawmakers have a big opportunity to attract even more clean energy jobs to their own backyards.” 

The story is the same here in the Old North State where the clean energy industry has had a huge impact on the state’s economy. According to a 2015 industry census, clean energy accounted for well-over 25,000 jobs in North Carolina. Between 2008 and 2015, the construction and maintenance of renewable energy facilities pumped over $2 billion of investments into the state’s economy.

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