Solar industry powers US jobs market

The solar-power industry in the US is creating jobs ten times faster than the economy as a whole, reports The Solar Foundation

More than 22,000 jobs are expected to be created by solar employers during 2014, says The Solar Foundation as part of its latest national census on jobs in the industry.

The not-for-profit research and education organisation also found that more than 142,000 Americans were employed in the solar industry – 20% higher than the previous year. This is at a time when the national average rate for employment growth is just 1.9%.

“The solar industry’s job-creating power is clear,” said Andrea Luecke, president and executive director of The Solar Foundation. “The industry has grown an astounding 53% in the last four years alone – putting people back to work and helping local economies.”

In contrast, employment in the fossil fuel electric-generation sector fell by 8.7%, while jobs in coal mining grew just 0.25%.

Workers in the solar industry earn good wages, with installers paid an average $23.63 (£14) per hour, which is comparable to skilled electricians and plumbers.

Solar companies also report that half of its customers cite cost saving as part of the reason for switching to solar, after a significant decline in costs.

President Barack Obama has set a target of the US doubling its electricity generation from renewable energy by 2020.