Clean Energy Unemployment Claims in COVID-19 Aftermath, April 2020

Nearly 600,000 U.S. clean clean energy workers have lost their jobs since March after 447,208 new workers filed unemployment claims in April, according to the latest analysis of unemployment data by BW Research for E2, E4TheFuture, and the American Council on Renewable Energy.

The analysis of Department of Labor data found that 594,347 workers in clean energy occupations, representing 17.8% of the industry’s workforce, filed for unemployment benefits in April and March. The number of jobs lost is more than double the number of clean energy jobs created since 2017. Before March, clean energy had been one of the U.S. economy’s biggest and fastest-growing employment sectors, growing 10.4% since 2015 to 3.4 million jobs at the end of 2019. That made clean energy by far the biggest employer of workers in all energy occupations, employing nearly three times as many people as the fossil fuel industry.

The job losses are across a wide variety of occupations, and in every state. Energy efficiency workers are losing their jobs after being shut out of homes and buildings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Solar and wind turbine companies are laying off workers as they’re unable to access panels and parts stranded in shut-down factories and as financing disappears. Factory workers are being let go as assembly lines for Energy Star appliances and electric and hybrid vehicles are ground to a halt.

By Industry Job Losses, April 2020

Sector March Claims (adj*) April Claims Total Claims
Energy Efficiency 103,298 310,188 413,486
Renewables 23,739 71,835 95,574
Clean Vehicles 11,339 35,101 46,501
Grid & Storage 6,517 19,685 26,202
Clean Fuels 2,186 10,398 12,584
INDUSTRY TOTAL 147,139 447,208 594,347

State With Most Job Losses, April 2020

State March Claims (adj.*) April Claims Total Claims
US TOTAL 147,139 447,208 594,347
California 27,583 77,860 105,443
Texas 5,965 25,227 31,192
Michigan 7,867 22,284 30,150
Florida 3,963 25,915 29,878
Georgia 1,909 25,251 27,161
North Carolina 9,124 17,293 26,417
Pennsylvania 8,283 12,810 21,093
New York 6,006 14,398 20,405
Washington 5,646 14,593 20,239
Ohio 6,929 12,869 19,798

For a full breakdown of clean energy jobs losses in each state, see the full analysis here.

Download

The complete report is available for download at this link.

Listen

A live press conference was held announcing the report’s findings on May 13, featuring:

  • Bob Keefe, executive director, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2);
  • Pat Stanton, director of policy, E4TheFuture;
  • Gregory Wetstone, president & CEO, American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE);
  • Phil Jordan, vice-president and principal, BW Research;

To download and listen to the one-hour press conference, click here.

Looking for More Info?

The analysis 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. Clean energy jobs have grown every year since the first report was released in 2016.

If you are looking for additional insight into this report or E2’s more than a dozen other annual clean energy employment reports, visit e2.org/reports. You can also contact E2 Communications Director Michael Timberlake (mtimberlake@e2.org).

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