Energy Transition

Jobs in energy efficiency now employ 2.25 million Americans

Chris Hamm of Stevens Institute of Technology installs louvers on Day 5 of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon at the Orange County Great Park, Irvine, California, in this handout picture taken October 2, 2015. Students from New Jersey-based Stevens Institute of Technology won the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon, taking the top trophy at the event in California by building a flood-resistant house that is also energy efficient, officials said October 17, 2015.  Picture taken October 2, 2015.  REUTERS/ Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon/Handout via Reuters   THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - TM3EBAH1AUK01

Energy efficiency is now the fastest growing job sector in the energy industry. Image: REUTERS/ Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon/Handout via Reuters

Kristin Hunt
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According to a new report, jobs in energy efficiency now employ 2.25 million Americans. That’s a workforce equal to the waitstaff in U.S. bars and restaurants — and it’s almost double the amount of people in law enforcement.

This jobs report comes from E2, a national nonpartisan group that pushes for environmentally and economically smart policies. Looking over the 2018 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER), E2 found remarkable gains in the energy efficiency sector and compiled some of the highlights into a report of its own.

Energy efficiency can be a confusing job category, but it applies to lots of workers. Construction workers on LEED projects, energy auditors, HVAC contractors, and the people who manufacture Energy Star appliances all qualify. The label basically applies to anyone who works to reduce energy use — whether they’re improving existing structures or building something new from scratch.

As data from 2017 reveals, energy efficiency is now the fastest growing job sector in the energy industry. It employs twice as many workers in the U.S. as all fossil fuel sectors combined, and accounted for half of the energy industry’s job growth last year.

Image: Pexels

These jobs are especially popular in California, the number one state for energy efficiency work. It boasts 310,433 jobs in that sector, mostly in HVAC (183,278 jobs) but also in efficient lighting (69,011), advanced building materials and insulation (18,677), and “other,” meaning energy audits, building certification, and software services (39,468).

After California, the state with the most energy efficiency work is Texas with 154,565 jobs. New York, Florida, and Illinois round out the top five with 117,339, 112,620, and 86,916 jobs, respectively.

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But even in areas where these jobs aren’t as popular, they’re still present. The report says that 99.7 percent of all American counties currently have energy efficiency jobs, as this sector employs people in roughly 3,000 of the 3,007 counties in the U.S.

Other interesting stats? Veterans hold 11 percent of all energy efficiency jobs, which is above the 6 percent national average of veterans in the workforce. Also nearly 60 percent of energy efficiency employees work in construction, adding up to 1.27 million individuals.

Energy efficiency businesses believe the numbers will only improve in the coming years. They’re currently projecting a 9 percent job growth in energy efficiency jobs for 2018, a figure which — if accurate — will be reflected in the next USEER report.

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Energy TransitionJobs and the Future of Work
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