The Promise of a Bright Future and Strong Economy

Summary:

Nurtured by smart clean energy policy over the past decade, including the Renewable Portfolio Standard, Clean Fuels Program and Coal to Clean, Oregon’s clean energy economy has fueled private sector job growth throughout the state. Heading into 2020, Oregon’s clean energy economy had firmly established itself as the powerhouse of the state’s energy sector and was only gaining steam. At the beginning of 2020, nearly 57,000 Oregonians worked in clean energy, representing 58% of all energy sector jobs and almost 3% of the statewide workforce. In fact, the clean energy economy was outpacing Oregon’s economy-wide job growth by over 60% and contributing to the local economy in every county and every state senate district. Companies surveyed across Oregon anticipated even more robust growth, projecting to add about 2,800 clean energy jobs in 2020. All that changed with the COVID-19 global pandemic and the economic recession it precipitated. Oregon’s clean energy economy has been hammered since the pandemic’s arrival in March, with over 6,000 of Oregon’s clean energy workers—10% of the state’s clean energy workforce pre-COVID—out of work at the beginning of 2021.

Clean Jobs Oregon details the size, scope, and diversity of this core sector of Oregon’s economy, the challenges it continues to face due to the pandemic, and the promise that strategic policy action and targeted stimulus investments in clean energy hold to drive a strong and durable recovery for Oregon’s economy. Complementing this report is E2’s recent Clean Jobs, Better Jobs report that shows wages and benefits in clean energy compare favorably to other industries; in fact, Oregon’s clean energy economy pays nearly 21% more than the state’s economy-wide median wage. Taken together, these reports demonstrate that—by leveraging clean energy’s job creation potential—Oregon policymakers can help stimulate an economic recovery, make progress towards achieving Oregon’s climate goals and create jobs that come with pay and benefits that are better than many of the jobs that have been lost

Federal policies from the Biden administration and Congress are crucial for economic recovery across the nation and in Oregon. However, Oregon policymakers have a critical role to play in facilitating recovery in the state’s clean energy sector to recuperate its recent job losses and position it for continued growth in the years to come. To help realize clean energy’s job creation potential in Oregon, state lawmakers should stay the course and ensure strong implementation of existing clean energy policies and regulations, including Gov. Kate Brown’s March 2020 Executive Order on Climate Action (EO 20-04). And by adopting additional policies in 2021 that will drive investment and job growth in the clean energy economy—such as a 100% clean electricity bill and a zero-emission truck standard called the Advanced Clean Trucks Rule—state officials can leverage Oregon’s clean energy economy as an engine for growth, both now and into the future.

A BIGGER PICTURE

This report focuses solely on the energy sector of the economy and does not include jobs in retail trade, repair services, water or waste management, and indirect employment or induced employment.

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Findings

  • Small businesses are the backbone of Oregon’s clean energy economy. More than eight in ten (83%) clean energy workers were employed at companies with fewer than 20 employees;
  • 3 in 10 construction jobs in Oregon are in clean energy occupations, from solar installers and site workers to electricians, HVAC technicians, lighting technicians, carpenters and others who work in energy efficiency;
  • Oregon ranked ninth in the country for clean energy unionization, with 9% of clean energy workers part of a union – behind only Washington and California in the West and well above the nation’s economywide average;
  • Nearly four in ten Oregon clean energy workers were of non-white or Hispanic ethnicity in 2019;
  • Clean energy accounts for 55% of all energy sector jobs in Oregon, 35 times more than fossil fuels;
  • Rural areas in Oregon are home to more than 10,000 of the state’s clean energy jobs.

Oregon Clean Energy Employment Q4 2019

Energy Efficiency 42,935 jobs
Renewable Energy 7,540 jobs
Solar Energy 5,759 jobs
Clean Vehicles 2,493 jobs
Grid Modernization 1,524 jobs
Wind Energy 1,407 jobs
Energy Storage 1,348 jobs
Clean Fuels 776 jobs
All Clean Energy Sectors 56,617 jobs

Looking for More Info?

This report follows E2’s Clean Jobs America analysis which found the clean energy jobs account for nearly 3.3 million jobs across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Both reports expand on data from the 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. E2 is a partner on the USEER, the fifth installment of the energy survey first released by the Department of Energy in 2016.

If you are looking for additional insight into E2’s Clean Jobs Oregon 2019 or our other Clean Jobs America reports, visit e2.org/reports. You can also contact E2 Communications Director Michael Timberlake (mtimberlake@e2.org). An FAQ is also available here to answer any questions.

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