More Than 400,000 U.S. Clean Energy Jobs Have Been Lost So Far During the Pandemic

A man works on a wind turbine at a manufacturing facility in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

A man works on a wind turbine at a manufacturing facility in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Department of Energy / Nordex USA

The clean energy sector in the United States lost 429,000 jobs last year due to the economic impacts of Covid-19, with the industry hitting its lowest number of workers since 2015, according to a new analysis of federal unemployment filings. Based on the industry’s current growth rates, it could take well into 2023 for clean energy jobs to reach their pre-pandemic levels.

The analysis, prepared for E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), E4TheFuture, and the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) by the research group BW Research Partnership, found that 70 percent of the clean energy jobs lost this year have yet to be recovered.

The energy efficiency sector lost more than 300,000 workers nationwide in 2020, followed by renewable energy, with 67,500 lost jobs, and clean vehicles, with 31,000. California led states in job losses, with a drop of more than 71,000, equal to 13 percent of its clean energy workforce. Next was Georgia, with 26,000 lost jobs, or 30 percent of its clean energy workforce, and Florida, with 22,800, or 13.6 percent.

Nationwide, the industry has lost 12 percent of its workforce since March, with women and Black and Hispanic workers disproportionately impacted.

“Clean energy had been one of the nation’s fastest-growing sectors over the past five years, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Phil Jordan, vice president at BW Research Partnership, said in a statement. “In addition to clawing back the jobs we lost in 2020, we need to help the sector return to growth mode and get back to creating economic opportunities for more Americans in 2021.”