Government leaders aiming to provide more jobs should consider policies that boost clean energy―especially energy efficiency. A comprehensive report shows that industries making energy efficiency products are the top job creators in the energy economy.
The 2019 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) found that nearly 3.3 million Americans were working in clean energy (such as clean transportation, renewable energy and energy efficiency) nationwide in 2018 outnumbering fossil fuel jobs 3 to 1. According to the report, much more effort is needed to ensure that the jobs are high-quality (e.g. a career path, family-sustaining wages and benefits) and accessible to everyone regardless of gender or race.
What’s in the Report?
The 2019 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) checks on all energy jobs and related worker statistics nationwide. It was published by the National Association of State Energy Officials and the Energy Futures Initiative with support from various organizations and foundations as well as E2, a group of Environmental Entrepreneurs.
The report shows that clean energy jobs are available—and growing across the nation with 2.3 million workers representing two-thirds of all energy jobs (fossil and clean). Energy efficiency jobs are expected to grow by another 7.8 percent this year. Almost 1.3 million energy efficiency jobs or over half of the efficiency workers are in the construction industry.
Who Benefits from the Job Growth?
While, energy efficiency jobs pay more than the national median wage, the workforce comprises only 24% women and 8% African Americans. The current workforce is 76 to 78% white male.
What Policymakers Can Do
The report notes the extreme difficulty in filling jobs in energy efficiency manufacturing, construction and professional services mainly due to lack of training, experience, or technical skills. This is an excellent opportunity for policymakers to set legislation that helps link those jobs to necessary training and to include people who don’t normally have access to these jobs in the pool of candidates.
States and localities should ensure utilities are taking advantage of energy efficiency before using other resources to meet customer needs.
On the federal level, they should stop rolling back smart clean energy policies that benefit all Americans, increase tax credits for energy-efficient cars, extend and upgrade energy efficiency tax credits for residential and commercial buildings and increase investments in applied science programs. Since the report shows that clean energy is a great source of job prospects, policymakers should help ensure everyone in their community will benefit.