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


<< The July unemployment analysis was revised up to 10,400 on September 11, 2020 and is available here >>

The U.S. clean energy sector added just 3,200 jobs in July, signaling the sector’s surge of workers returning in June was short-lived, according to the latest analysis of unemployment data by BW Research for E2, E4TheFuture, and the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE).

The 0.1% increase in jobs still leaves over half a million (511,075) clean energy workers out of work despite nationwide re-openings – about 15 percent of the sector’s workforce before the COVID-19 outbreak. While July represents the second straight month of job growth for the industry after three months of devastating job losses, fewer than 10 states saw 100-plus clean energy employees return to work and at the current pace it would take nearly 15 years for the U.S. clean energy sector to reach pre-COVID-19 employment levels.

The new analysis also does little to alleviate long-term concerns for the industry. In addition to continued high unemployment, casual or paused re-openings, and the exhaustion of many programs from earlier stimulus, long-term and permanent unemployment has risen sharply to more than 4.4 million as initial weekly unemployment claims continue at historic pace.

Only one out of every six clean energy jobs lost since March returned in June and July, and as federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds are exhausted and states are forced to close businesses again in the face of COVID-19’s resurgence, more layoffs could be imminent without congressional action.

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.

By Industry Job Losses, July 2020

Energy Efficiency -103,298 -309,584 -18,880 71,786 2,105 -357,871
Renewables -23,739 -71,705 -4,272 17,287 591 81,840
Clean Vehicles -11,399 -35,070 -2,059 10,335 276 -37,917
Grid & Storage -6,517 -19,666 -1,166 4,561 132 -22,656
Clean Fuels -2,186 -10,390 -657 2,351 91 -10,791
INDUSTRY TOTAL -147,139 -446,416 -27,035 106,320 3,195 -511,075

States With Most Job Losses, July 2020

STATE TOTAL CLAIMS Percent of  Pre-COVID19  Workforce Unemployed
California 89,158 16.60%
Georgia 27,316 32.60%
Florida 26,521 16.00%
Texas 24,659 10.20%
Michigan 24,525 19.60%
North Carolina 21,214 18.80%
Pennsylvania 18,866 20.10%
Washington 18,444 21.70%
New York 17,239 10.80%


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

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

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