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DOE releases national energy employment analysis
Kirill Abbakumov   on Thursday, March 30, 2017 at 1:00:00 pm

In mid-January, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released the agency’s second annual analysis of how changes in America’s energy profile are affecting national employment in key sectors of the economy. The report concentrates on the dynamic role of energy technologies and infrastructure in a 21st century American economy as energy innovation is proving itself as the important driver of economic growth in America and producing 14% of the new jobs in 2016.

Some key findings of the report include:

  • 4 million Americans are employed in Traditional Energy and Energy Efficiency industries which added over 300,000 net new jobs in 2016, 14% of the nation’s job growth;
  • Energy efficiency jobs increased by 133,000 jobs for a total of 2.2 million in 2016;
  • Investments in energy infrastructure such as transmission, distribution and storage generated 65,000 new jobs in 2016;
  • Solar industry employment added over 73,000 jobs, or 25%, in 2016;
  • Wind industry employment added 25,000 new jobs in 2016 for a total of 102,000;

The report examines four sectors of the economy - electric power generation and fuels; transmission, wholesale distribution, and storage; energy efficiency; and motor vehicles - which cumulatively account for almost all of the United States’ energy production and roughly 70% of U.S. energy consumption. By looking at a wide portion of the energy economy, the report offers a clearer picture to the public and policy makers of how changes in energy technology, systems, and usage are affecting the economy and creating or displacing jobs.

The energy efficiency sector predicted hiring rates of 9% in 2017, or 198,000 new hires. Projected hiring rates were at 7% within the electric power generation sector. Transmission, wholesale distribution, and storage firms anticipate 6 percent employment growth in 2016. However, the Fuels sector predicts a decline of 3% during 2017. Yet even as the report found the opportunity for job growth in many energy sectors, employers are still finding it difficult to hire new employees with needed skills. Continued investment into workforce and adult education initiatives are poised to reverse this trend.

The 2017 report also provides individual State Energy and Employment Profiles for the first time. The state reports highlight the growth and loss of jobs in particular energy sectors across the country and will provide a useful tool for state energy offices and economic development agencies.  State profiles demonstrate the unevenness of growth in new energy technologies. For instance, 41% of all solar jobs are in California, while 24% of all wind jobs are in Texas.