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Report: Clean Energy Is A Leading Creator Of New Quality Jobs In Pennsylvania

On August 17, the Wolf Administration released a new 2020 Pennsylvania Clean Energy Employment Report, showing clean energy is a leading creator of quality jobs in Pennsylvania.  The sector added 7,794 jobs in 2017-19, for an 8.7 percent average job growth rate, compared to 1.9 percent average overall job growth in the state.

“The Pennsylvania Clean Energy Employment Report comes at an opportune time, as government and industry leaders look to strengthen Pennsylvania’s workforce and economy in response to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gov. Tom Wolf said. “This detailed analysis of data and trends in clean energy employment in 2017-19 demonstrates the sector was a top job generator statewide, and shows which industries were hiring and looking for trained workers.

“This report shows that workforce training investment decisions can benefit Pennsylvanians right now and position the state going forward to grow and improve livelihoods, the economy and our environment.”

The Pennsylvania Clean Energy Employment Report presents employment data in five industries: energy efficiency, clean energy generation, alternative transportation, clean grid and storage, and clean fuels.

Collectively, they employed over 97,000 Pennsylvanians in 2019, or 36 percent of the state’s energy sector. Seventy-five percent of these workers earned higher wages than the statewide median, and 66 percent worked full-time on clean energy projects.

The biggest clean energy employer in the state in 2019 was the energy efficiency industry.

More than 71,400 Pennsylvanians worked in construction, technology and manufacturing jobs related to ENERGY STAR® appliances, lighting, and HVAC systems; building and insulation materials; solar water heating and cooling; and other components of energy efficient systems.

The report contains this note about the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on clean energy jobs in Pennsylvania--

“While the full extent of the economic impact of the pandemic is yet unknown, BW Research estimates that as of April 2020, Pennsylvania has already lost more than 21,000 clean energy jobs—a 16.2 percent decline—as a result of COVID-19 economic fallout; this number may exceed 30,200 by the second quarter of 2020.

“The return of clean energy jobs over time can now be measured against the last quarter of 2019 and will serve as a benchmark for recovery in this sector within Pennsylvania.”

In the clean energy generation industry, solar energy workers made up the largest share of the workforce: 35.4 percent, or 5,173 jobs. Solar jobs grew 8.3 percent in Pennsylvania in 2017-19, in contrast to a slight decline nationwide.

Wind energy firms employed 2,937 Pennsylvanians, with over 21 percent of them in manufacturing jobs, compared to 10 percent of the state’s overall workforce.

The wind power industry is a driver of manufacturing jobs, as wind became the largest source of renewable energy (36 percent) in Pennsylvania in 2017, supported by 29 wind technology manufacturing facilities in the state.

These services are available to export to national and global wind energy markets, setting Pennsylvania up to be a leader in wind component manufacturing.

The Pennsylvania Clean Energy Employment Report was released along with, and as a slice of, the 2020 Pennsylvania Energy Employment Report.

The broader report shows that energy continues to be a significant employer in Pennsylvania.

The sector provided 269,031 jobs, or 4.5 percent of the overall statewide workforce, as of the last quarter of 2019. It generated 19 percent of all new jobs in 2018-2019.

The energy sector saw job losses in nuclear and coal generation in 2017-19, however. Nuclear generation shed 243 jobs (-4.5 percent), while 163 jobs were lost in coal generation (-8.6 percent).

This mirrors national declines in nuclear and coal generation employment, as the United States shifts to natural gas and renewable energy powered electricity generation.

The doubling of Pennsylvania’s natural gas electric generation capacity in the past decade led to a 13.4 percent increase in employment in natural gas electricity generation in 2017-19. However, the rapidly increasing output from Pennsylvania’s unconventional wells is outpacing consumption, leading to a reduction in siting and drilling for new wells.

Motor vehicle industries continue to be strong employers in Pennsylvania, with gas and diesel vehicles accounting for 78.8 percent of this employment. But new job growth is happening faster in alternative fuel vehicle industries.

For example, jobs related to smaller plug-in hybrid vehicles grew 26.6 percent in 2017-19, far outpacing the 4.8 percent job growth rate in the fossil fuel vehicle industries.

“We know Pennsylvania’s energy sector is a job creator, and we’re seeing that it’s evolving rapidly, with clean energy industries growing and workforce development needs changing along with this,” said Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “Having a comprehensive, data-grounded understanding of the energy sector is a critical component of clean energy policy and program development.”

Find the complete 2020 energy employment reports. Data come from the 2019 U.S. Energy and Employment Report data set.

The reports were commissioned from BW Research by the DEP Energy Programs Office, which functions as the Pennsylvania State Energy Program for the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Energy Programs Office gathers data and develops materials to help policymakers, planners and other leaders look ahead and make informed decisions with optimal outcomes for Pennsylvania’s industry, work force and environment.

The contract with BW Research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.


“Expanding our clean energy sector is crucial for building a sustainable future for Pennsylvania. Gov. Wolf’s report released today reaffirms that this sector is an economic winner that is already driving job creation at an impressive rate,” said Rob Altenburg, director of the PennFuture Energy Center. “As we focus on the recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, our state policymakers have a unique opportunity to build on this success and to jumpstart our economy by prioritizing investments into clean energy jobs.

“As laid out in PennFuture’s “A Green Stimulus and Recovery Platform,” a dedicated effort to double down on Pennsylvania’s green energy economy would create tens of thousands of good-paying, family-sustaining jobs, now and in the future.”

Related Articles:

-- PennFuture Releases A Green Stimulus & Recovery Platform For Pennsylvania Report

-- 4 State Coalition Unveils Blueprint To 'Reimagine Appalachia' Economy For Workers, Communities, Environment

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[Posted: August 17, 2020]


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