• The Solar Foundation says there was a 3.2% drop in employment opportunities for US solar workforce in 2018, compared to previous year
  • It says this decrease was due to uncertainty surrounding tariffs and state policy impacts
  • Women made up 26% of total workforce, while Latino/Hispanic communities comprised 17% workforce
  • Compared to 2017 when 18% respondents to the foundation’s survey found it difficult to find qualified candidates to fill open positions, in 2018 this number increased to 26%
  • Industry is hopeful about 7% increase in solar jobs in 2019 relying on the backlog of utility-scale projects and new policy incentives in key states

The US solar industry employed 8,000 people less in 2018 compared to 2017, registering a drop of 3.2%. In its annual report titled National Solar Jobs Census 2018, The Solar Foundation (TSF) points out this was the second consecutive year of decline after 7 years of steady growth (see US Solar Jobs Decline First Time In 8 Years).

Solar jobs declined due to the slowdown in installed solar power capacity as several companies delayed utility scale projects in late 2017 as they waited for the outcome of a petition for new tariffs on solar panels and cells. The delays impacted numbers in the first 3 quarters of 2018 as well.

Moreover, established solar markets in some US states witnessed policy challenges and a difficult business climate. But what’s heartening is the growth some other states registered due to supportive policies and rapidly declining cost of solar technologies that increased employment opportunities in 2018, according to TSF.

“Despite two challenging years, the long-term outlook for this industry remains positive as even more Americans turn to low-cost solar energy and storage solutions to power their homes and businesses,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director at The Solar Foundation. This growth will come if spurred by exceptional leadership at the federal, state and local levels and address the urgent challenge of climate change, added Luecke.

Key points of the report are:

  • At the end of 2018, the US solar industry employed 242,343 workers, compared to 250,271 workers in 2017
  • Most jobs (155,157) were in the installation and project development sector, while solar manufacturing employed 33,726 people.
  • Women made up 26% of total workforce
  • Other demographics show Latino/Hispanic communities comprise 17% of the workforce, 9% coming from Asian and 8% by black/African American populace.
  • In the TSF’s survey, 26% of solar establishments had difficulties to find qualified candidates to fill open positions, a substantial increase from the 18% that reported such challenges in 2017.
  • The US industry is expecting 7% increase in solar jobs in 2019 relying on the backlog of utility-scale projects and new policy incentives in key states.

The report can be viewed on TSF’s website .