Salt Lake City, UT -- News of job growth is always a good thing. But when that news just so happens to apply to a segment as beset with challenges as the solar industry, it crosses the line from good to great. Today, The Solar Foundation (TSF) announced encouraging statistics that show despite recent setbacks and reports of layoffs, the U.S. solar industry is expanding at a clip nearly six times that of the overall economy.
According to TSF’s National Solar Jobs Census 2012, the U.S. solar industry added 13,872 jobs between September 2011 and September 2012. Bringing the total of employed solar industry workers to 119,016, this leap represents a 13.2 growth in employment. In comparison, the overall economy poked along at a sluggish 2.3 percent during the same time period, according to information obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In a press release issued by TSF, Executive Director Andrea Luecke said, “The solar industry has grown at significantly higher rates than most other industries in the past several years, making it one of the foremost creators of new jobs in the United States. These new solar industry jobs are sustainable, cannot be outsourced and play a critical role in our country’s economic recovery.”
Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C. based non-profit Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said, “The solar energy industry is creating jobs in America when we need them most. The rapid growth of jobs in the solar industry clearly demonstrates that smart policies, including the federal investment tax credit, are putting Americans back to work.”
Information gathered from the voluntary online census, which queried more than 1,000 solar companies, also provided illuminating information as to the principal driving factors behind the industry’s surge in growth. The biggest percentage of participants, almost one third, cited falling prices for solar components as a primary driver of growth. Others pointed to federal tax incentives and state legislation allowing third-party system ownership, as well as the enacting of Renewable Portfolio Standards to foster the increased production of solar energy.
“This is what happens when government provides a stable policy environment,” Resch added. “The private industry does what it does best – creates new jobs for Americans.”
Monique Hanis, spokesperson for SEIA, said continued growth of the U.S. solar industry will hinge greatly upon the protection and expansion of successful state and federal policies, in addition to continued financing for solar projects and operations. More