The 2018 National Solar Jobs Census sent a clear message that solar isn’t just a California thing anymore. Across the Midwest, multiple states posted double-digit gains in the number of solar industry jobs. In Illinois – which is hardly sun-baked – the number of solar employees increased by a staggering 37%. And changes in state policy in Florida allowed the state to jump to the number two spot, behind only California, in solar industry jobs.
These job increases are a big deal because it shows that the solar industry is growing across the US in response to multiple new state-level incentives and policy shifts, as well as the increasingly competitive price of solar power. The job additions came even as tariffs on Chinese solar panels, which were expected to take a large toll on the solar industry nationwide, took effect at the start of 2018.
Of course, not all of the news is good news. The report is more indicative of a redistribution of the solar industry across the US rather than a net increase in the size of the solar industry. Overall, the US lost 3.2% of its solar jobs as California firms in particular were hit hard by the solar panel tariffs.
That said, the fact that the majority of the new jobs are in the installation and project development sector is promising. Many new solar projects may be on the way across the US in the years ahead.