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

23,800 jobs in clean energy were added in October, leaving 13% of the sector’s pre-COVID-19 workforce unemployed according to the latest analysis of federal unemployment filings prepared by BW Research for E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), E4TheFuture and the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE).

Overall, October’s job gains represented a 0.8% increase in nationwide clean energy jobs and leaves more than 454,000 clean energy workers still out of work. At the current pace, it would take the industry over 18 months to reach pre-COVID employment levels and 23 months to meet the sector’s projected 2020 job growth before the pandemic.

While October represents the fifth straight month of job growth for the industry after three months of devastating job losses,  three out of every four clean energy workers who lost their jobs at the beginning of the crisis remain out of work, according to the monthly report. The slow growth is consistent nationwide; 44 states saw below 1% growth in October, with 23 states and the District of Columbia adding fewer than 200 jobs each.

In 2018 and 2019, clean energy created about 190,000 new jobs nationwide. Before the coronavirus pandemic, employers projected that more than 175,000 jobs would be added in 2020, according to the 2020 U.S. Energy & Employment Report (USEER) employer survey. Before COVID-19, nearly 3.4 million Americans across all 50 states and the District of Columbia worked in clean energy occupations, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, grid modernization, clean vehicles and fuels. That’s more people than work in real estate, banking or agriculture in the U.S., and three times the number of Americans that worked in fossil fuels, according to E2’s Clean Jobs America report.

By Industry Job Losses, October 2020

Sector March  April  May   June  July August Sept. Oct. Total 
Energy Efficiency -103,298 -309,584 -18,880 71,786 6,836 8,116 8,354 16,806 -319,864
Renewables -23,739 -71,705 -4,272 17,287 1,918 2,571 2,273 3,965 -71,704
Clean Vehicles -11,399 -35,070 -2,059 10,335 896 2,182 965 1,615 -32,536
Grid & Storage -6,517 -19,666 -1,166 4,561 428 482 510 1,042 -20,326
Clean Fuels -2,186 -10,390 -657 2,351 296 205 378 409 -9,594
TOTAL -147,139 -446,416 -27,035 106,320 10,373 13,556 12,479 23,838 -454,024

States With The Most Total Job Losses, October 2020

State Total Losses Percent of Clean Energy Workforce
California 76,638 13.90%
Georgia 26,540 30.70%
Florida 24,000 14.30%
Michigan 22,671 17.00%
Texas 20,765 8.40%
North Carolina 18,340 16.00%
Pennsylvania 17,340 17.90%
Washington 17,124 19.20%
Ohio 14,774 12.70%
New York 14,329 8.10%

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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 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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