More than 40% of jobs lost from pandemic crisis recovered by last January
DENVER (December 13, 2021) – More than 58,000 clean energy workers are employed in Colorado across every county after the sector surged 6 percent in the second half of 2020. That’s according to a new analysis of employment data released today by the national, nonpartisan business group E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), the Colorado Solar and Storage Association (COSSA), and the Energy Efficiency Business Coalition (EEBC). The report comes as the Senate looks to finalize historic investments in climate infrastructure that would boost clean energy jobs and businesses across the state.
Like most of the economy, clean energy was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn in 2020. According to Clean Jobs Colorado 2021, 2020 was the first year-to-year decline since E2 began tracking clean energy jobs in 2016 and the lowest total since 2017. At one point, more than 7,500 clean energy workers in Colorado (12 percent of the sector’s workforce) had filed for unemployment. However, the sector surged back 6 percent in the second half of the year to recover nearly half (44 percent) of the jobs initially lost. The final 2020 job numbers represent a nearly 7 percent drop in Colorado’s clean energy workforce from 2019, or 4,200 jobs.
Despite the setbacks, clean energy accounts for more than 1 in every 50 jobs in Colorado thanks to smart climate policy leadership in the state that helped grow the sector nearly 10 percent between 2017 and 2020. According to the analysis, Colorado can take further advantage of the sector’s high job growth potential with recent policy wins that will drive more emission reductions in the oil and gas industry, support decarbonization of transportation and the built environment and advanced clean energy workforce development. Along with enacting new policies such as an advanced clean trucks rule, these policies would help create tens of thousands of new jobs in the state that would last for decades.
As in previous years, energy efficiency continued to lead the field with the sector accounting for about 56 percent of all clean energy jobs. Renewable energy came in second with its 17,000 jobs accounting for about 30 percent of the call clean energy workforce. Colorado was also one of only five states to have more than 5,000 workers in both solar and wind industries as the two sectors combined to account for more than 15,000 of Renewable Energy’s 17,000 jobs.
While the overall clean energy sector saw a decline in jobs, clean vehicles bucked the trend. Despite being down nearly 13 percent of its workers in May, the clean vehicle industry rebounded sharply to increase jobs 6 percent in 2020.
Nationwide clean energy employment finished 2020 down about 307,000 jobs from 2019’s high of nearly 3.4 million, recovering about 300,000 jobs nationally from June to December— a rate faster than nationwide employment growth during that period.
Susan Nedell, E2 Mountain West advocate:
“Our analysis shows why a strong clean energy economy is not only more important than ever before, but why lawmakers and investors should double-down on the potential growth of this industry here in Colorado. Despite the unprecedented economic setback, the data shows clean energy is rebounding back in across the state and our state and federal lawmakers should take note: if you want these good paying jobs in your backyard, you need to continue to support the policies that can ensure Colorado workers and businesses reap the economic benefits from the clean energy transition.”
Patricia Rothwell, EEBC Executive Director:
“The EEBC relies on the reports and resources of E2 annually to help benchmark and direct our businesses’ objectives to support energy efficiency policies and programs that create sustainable jobs and workforce for long-term economic vitality and growth of the energy efficiency industry in Colorado.”
Mike Kruger, COSSA President and CEO:
“This report once again demonstrates the strength of Colorado’s renewable energy sector despite recent setbacks. Proven by these new numbers, Colorado remains one of the most promising regions for renewable energy development as one of the only states with both a solar and wind industry that can compete with anyone for future workers and investment.”
The analysis is based on preliminary employment data collected and analyzed by BW Research Partnership for the 2021 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER, forthcoming). The USEER analyzes data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) to track employment across many energy production, transmission, and distribution subsectors. In addition, the 2021 USEER relies on a unique supplemental survey of 35,000 business representatives across the United States.
Previous E2 Colorado Jobs Reports:
- Report: Clean Jobs America 2021 (April 2020)
- Report: Clean Jobs, Better Jobs: An examination of clean energy job wages (October 2020)
- Report: Build Back Better, Faster: How a federal stimulus focusing on clean energy can create millions of jobs and restart America’s economy (July 2020)
- Report: Clean Energy & COVID-19 Economic Crisis, May Impact Analysis (June 2020)
Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) is 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.
The Energy Efficiency Business Coalition (EEBC) is a statewide trade association that represents manufacturers, distributors, and contractors selling, installing, and marketing energy efficiency products and services in Colorado. The EEBC is one of a few organizations in the nation whose primary focus is to increase the business potential of the energy efficiency industry, at the local level. The member-funded coalition works with utilities, municipalities, and state legislature to promote energy efficiency policies and programs that support its members’ businesses.
Established in 1989, the Colorado Solar and Storage Association (COSSA) is the award-winning nonprofit association leading Colorado’s solar and storage industries. Our mission is to expand solar and storage markets and to generate jobs and prosperity for the people of Colorado. Together with hundreds of solar and storage business members we work to advance clean energy policies, remove market barriers, highlight emerging trends, and increase solar and storage education.