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

The U.S. clean energy sector added 106,320 jobs in June, leaving over half a million (514,270) clean energy workers out of work despite nationwide re-openings. Despite the gains in June, there remains a nearly 15 percent decline over pre-COVID-19 employment levels, according to the latest analysis of unemployment data by BW Research for E2, E4TheFuture, and the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE).

In all, clean energy employment is still down 15 percent from the start of the year, when nearly 3.4 million Americans worked in renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean vehicles and fuels and other clean energy sectors.

While the June jobs improvement is an encouraging sign of clean energy’s ability to quickly put Americans back to work, resuming a robust recovery in one of the nation’s biggest employment sectors anytime soon remains unlikely without direct action by Congress. Only one out of every six clean energy jobs lost since March returned in June, 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. According to the analysis, as many as 2.3 million clean energy workers are employed by small businesses that received PPP loans.

Other troubling trends include a sharp increase in permanent job losses, rising initial weekly unemployment claims, and COVID-19 cases spiking in states with some of the largest clean energy workforces, according to the analysis.

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, June 2020

SECTOR MARCH APRIL MAY JUNE TOTAL
Energy Efficiency -103,298 -309,584 -18,880 +71,786 -359,976
Renewables -23,739 -71,705 -4,272 +17,287 -82,429
Clean Vehicles -11,399 -35,070 -2,059 +10,335 -38,193
Grid & Storage -6,517 -19,666 -1,166 +4,561 -22,788
Clean Fuels -2,186 -10,390 -657 +2,351 -10,882
INDUSTRY TOTAL -147,139 -446,416 -27,035 +106,320 -514,270

State With Most Job Losses, May 2020

State March April May June Total Claims 
US TOTAL -147,139 -446,416 -27,035 +106,320 -514,270
California -27,583 -77,815 -4,313 +19,831 -89,881
Texas -5,965 -25,170 -1,709 +7,997 -24,847
Florida -3,963 -25,949 -2,563 +5,832 -26,643
Michigan -7,867 -22,245 -1,012 +6,465 -31,124
Georgia -1,909 -25,282 -1,741 +1,579 -27,353
North Carolina -9,124 -17,138 -955 +5,837 -21,380
Pennsylvania -8,283 -12,780 -571 +2,689 -18,945
Washington -5,646 -14,433 -1,163 +2,729 -18,513
New York -6,006 -13,868 -848 +3,314 -17,408
Ohio -6,929 -12,879 -612 +3,387 -16,582

 

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

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The complete report is available for download at this link.

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.

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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