The 2.5 Million U.S. Clean Energy Jobs Report is a Big Deal

Greetings from Washington, D.C. where the big news of the week is a truly impressive jobs report — no, not the Department of Labor survey for March 2016 which showed an impressive 215,000 job-gain in the U.S. economy and unemployment rising ever so slightly to 5 percent.

Actually, we are crowing about the 2.5 million U.S. jobs currently held by professional talent in clean energy and clean tech.

In a landmark study of employment in the growing clean energy and clean tech sectors, E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs) and research firm BW Research Partnership determined that 2.5 million Americans work in industries including energy efficiency, renewable energy, advanced vehicles, and energy storage.

So how do these jobs array? According to the study:

  • 1.9 million Americans work in energy efficiency, helping to retrofit legacy HVAC systems and lighting — and replace appliances with Energy Star-rated ones — in residences, schools, government offices, and commercial buildings;
  • 413,000 are employed in renewable energy, of which 299,000 work in solar and 77,000 work in wind. Solar and wind accounted for roughly 70 percent of new electric generating capacity in the U.S. last year;
  • 170,000 people work on advanced vehicles. Of these, 108,000 work on EVs and hybrids, and
  • 40,000 work on smart grids and in energy storage, while about33,000 work in clean fuels.

Indeed, these 2.5 million clean energy jobs are a big deal. To quote a certain candidate for office, these numbers are….HUUUUGE, especially since the clean energy workforce is essentially in its earliest growth stages.

To view this slice of the new American workforce in a clearer lens, check out this: according to the U.S. Department of Labor, clean energy already employsmore talent than these critical labor sectors:

  • Agriculture (1.3 million);
  • Real Estate (2.1 million), and;
  • Management (2.2 million).

Aside from the clean energy jobs growth that evident in this report, is this: we know that job growth in clean energy will scale like a hockey stick to build and support the economy for the next 40 to 50 years.

Folks, we’re just getting started. Time for us all to align our skill, accreditation, and experience for these and all future clean energy jobs.

Our best days lie ahead.

DAN SMOLEN is author of Tailoring the Green Suit: Empowering Yourself for an Executive Career in the New Green Economy and member of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2). He is also Founder and Managing Director of The Green Suits, LLC, which provides talent recruitment, workforce planning, and success management to green business and social good enterprises.

Photo credit: Wind energy field worker, Getty Images.