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US clean energy jobs poised for rebound after 2020 slump

The US clean energy industry is primed for "unparalleled jobs growth" in the wake of the Covid-19 economic crisis, finds the 2021 jobs report from Environmental Entrepreneurs.

The number of US clean energy jobs fell in 2020 for the first time since the federal government began tracking employment in the sector in 2015.

A little more than three million Americans worked in solar, wind, energy efficiency and other clean energy sectors at the end of 2020, a decrease of around 300,000 jobs from 2019, finds the Clean Jobs American 2021 report from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), a business group.

Goldin-Solar-company-Florida
Workers from the Goldin Solar company install a solar panel system on the roof of a home in Palmetto Bay, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Jobs were not lost across all sectors. Jobs in energy efficiency dropped by 11% as the pandemic prevented workers from entering homes or businesses for retrofits or other upgrades. Jobs also declined across solar energy, grid modernisation, batteries and energy storage. On the other hand, jobs increased in wind energy and clean vehicle manufacturing. Electric and hybrid vehicle employment jumped by 6%, or more than 12,000 new jobs, in 2020.

With the US economy on the mend after Covid-19 lockdowns, and the potential for a massive infusion of investment in clean energy from Joe Biden’s $2.25trn (€1.87trn) jobs and infrastructure proposal, E2 finds “promise of unparalleled jobs growth” in 2021 and beyond.

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“While clean energy suffered like many sectors of the economy in 2020, the prospects for growth are greater than ever given the climate policy proposals from the Biden administration, along with leadership in the states,” finds the report.