Employment in United States solar is now twice what it is in the country’s declining coal industry—and companies are struggling to fill all the available jobs. The findings in two new reports stand in contrast to Trump administration claims that jobs can be created in fossil fuels.
Citing “a Department of Energy report published in January by the Obama administration that provides the most complete picture available of American energy employment,” the New York Times writes that the solar industry employed more than 373,000 Americans part- or full-time last year. The coal industry had just over 160,000 employees nationwide.
Of those coal workers, 54,000 worked directly in mining—slightly more than half the 100,000 Americans working in wind power. “Though supporting fewer total jobs,” the Times observers, “the coal industry still employed an outsize share of workers in two states: Wyoming and West Virginia.”
Meanwhile the non-profit U.S. Solar Foundation, citing a research review and survey of solar industry participants, reports that “77.6% of solar employers reported difficulty finding candidates with any training specific to the position” last year in the United States, “and 77.9% reported difficulty finding candidates with any relevant work experience.”
“In 2016 alone,” the report adds, “the solar work force added more than 51,000 new solar jobs, 80% of which were newly created positions.”
The latest reports pile on evidence to a conclusion that others have previously reached. The U.S. Sierra Club reported last month that clean energy employs more Americans than fossil production in almost every U.S. state, and produces more than 2.5 times as many jobs across the country.
“These facts make it clear,” Sierra’s Executive Director Michael Brune said at the time, “that Donald Trump is attacking clean energy jobs purely in order to boost the profits of fossil fuel billionaires.”