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

12,500 jobs in clean energy were added in September, leaving almost 14% 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, September’s job gains represented a 0.4% increase in nationwide clean energy jobs and leaves nearly more than 477,900 clean energy workers still out of work in a year the industry projected to add over 175,000 jobs,

While September represents the fourth straight month of job growth for the industry after three months of devastating job losses,  just one out of every five clean energy jobs lost between March and May has come back, according to the monthly report. The slow growth is consistent nationwide; no state saw more than a 0.7% increase in employment in September, with 23 states and the District of Columbia adding fewer than 100 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.

While September showed some signs of national economic growth, alarming trends continued. Weekly unemployment claims remain at historic highs, and long-term and permanent unemployment rates have sharply risen since March. With federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds all but exhausted, and negotiations for an additional round of more targeted stimulus relief in question, more layoffs could be imminent.

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, September 2020

SECTOR MARCH APRIL MAY JUNE JULY AUGUST SEPT. SECTOR TOTAL
Energy Efficiency -103,298 -309,584 -18,880 +71,786 +6,836 +8,116 +8,354 -336,670
Renewables -23,739 -71,705 -4,272 +17,287 +1,918 2+,571 +2,273 -75,669
Clean Vehicles -11,399 -35,070 -2,059 +10,335 +896 +2,182 +965 -34,151
Grid & Storage -6,517 -19,666 -1,166 +4,561 +428 +482 +510 -21,368
Clean Fuels -2,186 -10,390 -657 +2,351 +296 +205 +378 -10,004
MONTHLY TOTAL -147,139 -446,416 -27,035 +106,320 +10,373 +13,556 +12,479 -477,862

States With The Most Total Job Losses, September 2020

State Total Losses Percent of Clean Energy Workforce
California 81,826 14.90%
Georgia 26,899 31.20%
Florida 25,166 15.00%
Michigan 23,341 17.60%
Texas 22,669 9.20%
North Carolina 19,533 17.00%
Pennsylvania 17,883 18.40%
Washington 17,693 19.90%
Ohio 15,519 13.40%
New York 14,865 9.10%

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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.

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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