A return to rapid growth, with clean vehicle jobs driving ahead
Clean energy and clean transportation jobs grew by more than 5 percent in 2021, with electric vehicle manufacturing jobs leading the way and renewable energy regaining most of the jobs lost in the COVID-19 economic downturn.
More than 3.2 million Americans were employed in renewable energy, energy efficiency, storage and grid modernization and clean fuels at the end of 2021, according to an E2 analysis of U.S. Department of Energy jobs data.
Approximately 156,000 jobs were added across all clean energy and clean vehicle subsectors in 2021—more than half of all jobs added to the total energy sector. Clean energy and clean transportation now employs more than 40 percent of all energy workers in America. Two years after the COVID-19 economic downturn wiped out more than 600,000 clean energy jobs, nearly 75 percent of those jobs were regained.
3.2 million Americans now work in clean energy, up 5 percent from a year earlier.
Every clean energy subsector, from renewables and energy efficiency to electric vehicles and grid modernization, grew last year. Conversely, fossil fuel jobs fell 4 percent.
While clean jobs grew along with most of the rest of the economy in 2021, they are still well below their pre-COVID peak, in part because of lingering uncertainty around federal policy.
California, Texas and New York continue to lead the U.S. in total clean energy jobs. Following (in order) were Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
New Mexico saw the biggest percentage growth in clean energy jobs last year after it passed some of the most promising clean energy policies in the country. But other states – led by Oklahoma, Kentucky, Indiana and Idaho – are also benefiting. Clean energy investments included in the Inflation Reduction Act would drive more job growth in those states and others.
Clean vehicles were the big story in 2022. Jobs building electric vehicles grew by a dramatic 26 percent. Many Republican-led states, including Georgia, Kentucky, Texas and Tennessee, benefited greatly from expansions of EV and other clean transportation manufacturers, and also would benefit from electric vehicle tax credits included in the Inflation Reduction Act.
Small businesses, the backbone of America’s economy, continue to employ the majority of the clean energy workforce. About 90 percent of all clean energy jobs were at companies that employed fewer than 100 workers.
Despite the strong job growth in 2021, uncertainty around federal policy cast a pall over the industry and job growth at the beginning of 2022. New clean energy project installations declined by 55 percent in the second quarter of 2022 alone, according to the American Clean Power Association, putting future job growth at risk.
However, with promising climate and clean energy investments and tax credits moving again in Congress in the summer, and the Biden administration stepping up its efforts to expand clean energy and cut carbon pollution, the second half of 2022 was looking brighter for continued strong growth in clean energy jobs.
2022 Clean Energy Employment Toplines
|Total Clean Energy||3,201,602|
|Grid & Storage||143,052|
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This is the seventh annual Clean Jobs America report produced by E2 based on analysis of the USEER, which was first released by the DOE in 2016. E2 was an original proponent of the DOE producing the USEER, and was a partner on the reports produced by the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) and National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) after the Trump administration abandoned it in 2017.