A Climate Nexus analysis finds that there were 3.2 million people employed in clean energy jobs, including wind, solar, electric vehicle production, and energy efficiency, as reported by the Energy Department in its 2023 U.S. Energy & Employment Report, which uses data from 2022. The clean energy sector as defined by the DOE experienced substantial growth, surpassing the overall U.S. employment growth rate achieving a remarkable growth rate of 3.9 percent, while overall US job growth was 3.1 percent.
In 2022, jobs related to net-zero aligned sectors accounted for nearly 40 percent of the total energy employment. Among all energy technologies, jobs in the electric vehicle field demonstrated the fastest job growth with a 27 percent increase from the previous year, adding 28,366 positions.
The recovery from the pandemic, which significantly impacted the energy sector, made notable progress in restoring lost energy industry jobs. At the end of 2022, the sector had successfully recovered 71 percent of the jobs lost in 2020, adding 596,000 jobs out of the total 840,000 lost that year.
The conflict in Ukraine significantly influenced the fossil fuel industry, leading to a rise in U.S. exports of petroleum and liquefied natural gas. However, employment levels fluctuated across different areas of fossil energy used for electric power generation. The number of jobs in the fossil fuel industry stands at 117,094, which is below the total reported in 2019. The coal sector lost 6,780 jobs, representing a decrease of 9.6 percent.
The demographics of the energy sector are also shifting. The number of women working in energy increased by 150,000, with over half of the net jobs added last year held by women. Workers from diverse racial backgrounds and veterans also had higher representation in the energy sector compared to the overall workforce and the U.S. economy, respectively.
The energy industry boasted a greater presence of unions, as 11% of its workforce were covered by union agreements, surpassing the average of 7 percent in the private sector. Additionally, union employers faced fewer obstacles in recruiting workers compared to their non-union counterparts. In 2022, 48 percent of non-union firms struggled significantly to find workers, particularly in the construction sector.
For Climate Nexus’ detailed breakdown on full-time U.S. energy employment – carbon-free, mixed, 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.
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Source: Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) + National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO),
2023 U.S. Energy & Employment Report, which uses data from 2022.