33,700 Nevadans worked in clean energy before pandemic hit in 2020

LAS VEGAS – Projected to add 1,500 workers in 2020, Nevada’s clean energy economy lost nearly 4,000 after a tumultuous year driven by the global COVID-19 economic crisis. Despite losing 11% of its workforce, clean energy remains the state’s leader for energy sector jobs and the best bet to power a fast and long-lasting recovery, according to a new report from E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs).

33,700 workers in Nevada were employed in energy efficiency, solar, wind, energy storage, clean vehicles and other clean energy fields at the start of 2020—accounting for more jobs than all other energy sectors combined, including fossil fuels. Before the coronavirus pandemic hit last March, clean energy businesses had grown nearly 40% since 2017, according to Clean Jobs Nevada 2020.

Jobs in the state’s clean energy economy were also higher-paying and more likely to come with benefits, according to a separate recent report from E2, the American Council on Renewable Energy, and the Clean Energy Leadership Institute. The sector’s median wage in 2019 ($20.55) was 17% higher than the overall statewide median and 7% higher than the nationwide median. Jobs in clean energy were also found to more likely to include healthcare and retirement benefits.

But this increasingly central pillar of Nevada’s economy was temporarily derailed due to impacts from the COVID-19 crisis. While 1,200 jobs have been recovered since the sector’s unemployment peaked in May, 75% of workers who lost their jobs between March and May remain out of work. Heading into 2020, Nevada clean energy businesses expected to increase employment 4.3% or about 1,500 jobs.

Clean Jobs Nevada comes at a critical juncture for the state to reclaim its recent job growth trajectory, create thousands of new ones quickly, and speed the state’s overall recovery from the COVID-19 health and economic crises. By implementing new and existing clean energy policy as described in Nevada’s State Climate Strategy—such as a zero-emission vehicle (ZEV), advanced clean truck standards, and increasing energy efficiency targets for the building sector—Nevada policymakers have an opportunity to leverage the clean energy sector for a stronger recovery.

Susan Nedell, E2 Mountain West Advocate, said:

“With Nevada workers still hurting from the economic crisis, leveraging the clean energy sector’s massive job growth potential needs to be a priority for lawmakers. Tens of thousands of new clean energy jobs across multiple industries and throughout the state, plus millions of dollars in investment are on the line to rebuild and strengthen Nevada’s economy.”

In addition to detailing sector-by-sector employment, Clean Jobs Nevada also breaks down jobs at the city, county, and congressional district levels. See more details here.

More details by sector:

  • Energy efficiency is the biggest sector of the state’s clean energy economy, employing almost 12,000 workers at year-end 2019;
  • Renewable energy employed over 11,200 workers, including more than 10,000 in solar energy;
  • Grid modernization and energy storage companies employed more than 9,000 after growing over 400% since 2017;
  • Jobs related to clean vehicles, including hybrid-electric and electric vehicles, employed 1,300;
  • Clean fuels companies employed 138.

Other key findings:

  • Small businesses are the backbone of Nevada’s clean energy economy. Nearly three out of every five (58%) clean energy workers were employed at companies with fewer than 20 employees;
  • 17% of construction jobs in Nevada were in clean energy occupations, from solar installers and site workers to electricians, HVAC technicians, lighting technicians, carpenters and others who work in energy efficiency;
  • Nevada ranked tenth in the country for clean energy unionization, with 9% of clean energy workers part of a union – behind only Washington, California, and Oregon in the West and well above the nation’s economywide average;
  • More than four in ten Nevada clean energy workers were of non-white or Hispanic ethnicity in 2019;
  • Clean energy accounts for 55% of all energy sector jobs in Nevada, and seven times more jobs than fossil fuels in the state;
  • Rural areas in Nevada are home to more than 1,300 of the state’s clean energy jobs.

Background:

Clean Jobs Nevada is the second iteration of the annual employment analysis. The report expands on data from the 2020 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) produced by the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) in partnership with the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO), using data collected and analyzed by the BW Research Partnership. The report was released in March 2020 and is available at www.usenergyjobs.org. E2 is a partner on the USEER, the fifth installment of the energy survey first released by the Department of Energy in 2016 and subsequently abandoned under the Trump administration. 

Additional Resources:

Previous E2 Clean Jobs Nevada Reports:

Previous E2 Clean Energy Unemployment Reports

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E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs) a national, nonpartisan group of business leaders, investors, and professionals from every sector of the economy who advocate for smart policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment. Our members have founded or funded more than 2,500 companies, created more than 600,000 jobs, and manage more than $100 billion in venture and private equity capital. For more information, see www.e2.org or follow us on Twitter at @e2org.

 

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