After Rough Year, Clean Energy Jobs on the Upswing in the Midwest

More than 677,900 Midwesterners worked in clean energy and clean vehicles at the end of 2020, making the sector a major – and promising – part of the region’s economy, according to this comprehensive analysis of employment data.

Like most of the economy, clean energy was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn in 2020. According to this year’s Clean Jobs Midwest, 2020 was the first year-to-year decline since E2 and Clean Energy Trust began tracking Midwest clean energy jobs. At one point, more than 131,600 Midwest clean energy workers had filed for unemployment, but the sector surged back 10.7 percent in the second half of the year to recover more than half of the jobs initially lost. The final 2020 job numbers represent an 8.9 percent drop in the Midwest clean energy workforce from 2019, or 66,100 jobs. Last year’s job losses were a dramatic change of pace for the industry. Last year’s job losses were a dramatic change of pace for the industry. In the 3 years leading up to 2020, for example, clean energy jobs grew almost 4 times as fast as overall employment.

MIDWEST HIGHLIGHTS

  • Energy Efficiency – 470,651 jobs
  • Clean Vehicles – 90,652 jobs
  • Renewable Energy – 84,881  jobs
  • Grid & Storage – 24,209 jobs
  • Clean Fuels – 7,525 jobs
  • ALL Clean Energy Sectors – 677,918 jobs

OTHER KEY FINDINGS

The biggest sector of the Midwest’s clean energy industry is energy efficiency, accounting for nearly 70 percent of the region’s clean energy jobs. But as more automakers and their suppliers continue to shift to electric vehicles, the advanced transportation sector saw a job increase of 3 percent across the region, with growth in most states. The sector added nearly 3,000 new jobs for a total of more than 90,000 workers.

Among clean energy subsectors, wind power, hybrid cars, and electric vehicles were the region’s brightest spots. Wind energy jobs in the region grew by more than 4 percent to 37,800 workers and the number of hybrid vehicle manufacturing employees grew by 6 percent to 43,000 workers. Electric vehicle (EV) jobs grew by an even healthier 8.5 percent, and are poised for future growth with supportive policies and significant commitments to EVs by major regional employers such as Ford and GM.

Clean energy jobs are found in every corner of the region. While big cities like Chicago (81,707), Detroit (50,229), and Minneapolis (34,958) were some of the largest hubs for clean energy jobs, more than one in five — or more than 143,800 — jobs are in rural areas.

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The complete report along with interactive breakdowns for all states is available at this link.

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