Solar Job Growth Remains Modest Under Tariff Policy

This report represents modest growth in the solar job market, which contracted in 2017 due to the looming threat of the tariffs and again in 2018 during the first year of the tariffs. In 2019, tariffs continued to be a drag on jobs, preventing us from seeing the kind of growth we expected.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. solar workforce grew by 2.3% in 2019, adding 5,643 jobs in the industry's second year under Section 201 tariffs, according to the National Solar Jobs Census 2019 released today by The Solar Foundation. The U.S. solar industry now employs 249,983 Americans, up from 244,340 in 2018. The new numbers account for jobs in Puerto Rico over the last two years.


This report represents modest growth in the solar job market, which contracted in 2017 due to the looming threat of the tariffs and again in 2018 during the first year of the tariffs. In 2019, tariffs continued to be a drag on jobs, preventing us from seeing the kind of growth we expected. Several other factors including increased labor efficiency also played a role in low job growth. Jobs ticked up slightly last year because of the phase-down of section 201 tariffs, declining solar costs and deployment growth in several state markets, the report said.

Following is a statement from Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA, on what the report indicates for the U.S. solar market:

"For the last few years, the data has been clear: U.S. solar jobs grow when trade restrictions decline. More than half of companies surveyed in the National Solar Jobs Census 2019 reported that policy challenges are a significant deterrent to their growth.

"Adding more than 5,000 new jobs is impressive given the policy environment, but we could be leaps and bounds ahead of where we are if it weren't for trade restrictions. SEIA's recent report shows that tariffs prevented tens of thousands of additional jobs from being created over the last three years. These are well-paying jobs that support families and boost communities.

"The solar industry is resilient and we're going to need to continue to evolve and create jobs if we're going to comprise 20% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030. Managing our growth will be a key part of this work and we'll continue to focus our efforts on workforce development and making sure the opportunities we create are open and accessible to all Americans."

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About SEIA®:

Celebrating its 46th anniversary in 2020, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry, which now employs more than 242,000 Americans. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is building a strong solar industry to power America. SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to build jobs and diversity, champion the use of cost-competitive solar in America, remove market barriers and educate the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.

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