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U.S. solar industry now employs more workers than oil and gas

Staff writer |
The U.S. solar industry now employs more workers than oil and gas, a new report from the Solar Foundation claims, with most of the jobs in power panel installation.

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Last year, the U.S. solar industry grew by 20% for a third year in a row, according to the foundation’s National Solar Job Census 2015. By the end of 2015, it employed nearly 209,000 solar workers, more than those employed in oil and gas extraction.

However, the growth in the solar industry was not shared equally across all types of jobs. Manufacturing, project development, and sales jobs have all remained steady over the past five years. Only the jobs in installation increased, from 43,934 jobs in 2010 to 119,931 in 2015.

“Employees of installation companies accounted for 22,900 or 65% of the new jobs added in 2015,” according to the report.

“The U.S. solar installation sector employs 77% more people than the domestic coal mining industry. Since 2014, solar installation has created more jobs than oil and gas pipeline construction and crude petroleum and natural gas extraction combined.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were just 184,500 Americans working in oil and gas extraction in December 2015 – nearly 17,000 fewer workers than a year ago.


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