How the Energy Industry is Affecting Employment in the U.S.: The DOE’s First Annual National Energy Employment Analysis

In March of 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy release its first annual analysis of how changes in America’s energy profile are affecting national employment in multiple energy sectors. The U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) uses a combination of existing energy employment data and a new survey of energy sector employers and provides a look at the national current energy employment landscape.

employment in U.S.Below are a few key findings from the report:

  • 3.64 million Americans work in traditional energy industries, including production, transmission, distribution, and storage.
  • Of these, 600,000 employees contribute to the production of low-carbon electricity, including renewable energy, nuclear energy and low emission natural gas.
  • An additional 1.9 million Americans are employed, in whole or in part, in energy efficiency.
  • Roughly 30 percent of the 6.8 million employees in the U.S. construction industry work on energy or building energy efficiency projects.

In terms of jobs for the future, the USEER found that several energy industries have projected increases in new jobs. Responding to the USEER survey of employers, the energy efficiency sector predicted hiring rates of 14 percent in 2016, or almost 260,000 new hires. Projected hiring rates were at 5 percent within the electric power generation and fuels sector, reflecting overall growth despite a loss of employment in 2015 in the oil and natural gas extraction sectors. Transmission, wholesale distribution, and storage firms anticipate 4 percent employment growth in 2016. Solar energy firms predicted 15 percent job growth over the next year.

In addition to the findings of the USEER, CNNMoney also reports that solar jobs in the U.S. have more than doubled in five years. This also means that there are more people working in solar energy than at oil rigs and gas fields. The solar energy industry employs about 209,000 people for jobs that include solar panel installers, designers, engineers, sales folks and managers.

CNNMoney details, “Americans overall are just starting to see wage growth pick up, but solar workers have already seen paychecks improve. In December, wages in the United States rose 2.5% compared to a year prior. Solar installers are making $21 an hour on average, up 5% from a year ago — or double the national average, according to the Solar Foundation.”


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