At the end of 2021, over 3.3 million people worked in wind, solar, efficiency and other clean energy fields, according to the Energy Department’s 2022 U.S. Energy & Employment Report, which uses data from 2021. That’s more than the number of people employed as registered nurses.
Like many industries, the energy sector has been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis, but is experiencing a strong recovery. Energy sector jobs last year grew 4 percent over 2020, while overall U.S. employment only grew 2.8 percent year-to-year. The clean energy sector experienced especially high growth: jobs in net-zero aligned sectors made up nearly 40 percent of total energy jobs in 2021, and emissions-reducing vehicle manufacturing grew 25 percent between 2020 and 2021. Meanwhile, fossil fuel jobs continue to decline, with the coal sector seeing job losses of nearly 12 percent. The continued decline in fossil energy jobs underscores the importance of investing in clean energy jobs and economic diversification in communities historically dependent on fossil fuels. Even as they laid off thousands of American workers, oil and gas CEOs made record profits.
For Climate Nexus’ detailed breakdown on full-time U.S. energy employment – both carbon-free and dirty – see below. Please note that USEER has changed some of its categorization since last year and stopped collecting data on certain sectors (such as gas station workers); for accuracy, year-to-year comparisons should compare discrete categories instead of overall numbers.