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Jobs in Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, and Resilience (2019)

July 2019

According to the 2019 U.S. Energy Employment Report (USEER), 611,000 people worked in zero-emission technology industries, including renewables and nuclear in the United States.1 The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) recorded even higher renewable energy employment in the United States at 855,000 direct and indirect jobs in 2018.2

However, the Standard Occupation Classification (SOC) system managed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not currently include codes to allow for the comprehensive analysis of employment in these fields. To address the lack of country-wide data, the American Society of Adaptation Professionals (ASAP) has initiated efforts to define and quantify the adaptation and resilience workforce. ASAP’s preliminary analysis found that adaptation and resilience employment is predominantly in government (40 percent), non-governmental organizations (36 percent), and the private sector (16 percent).5 However, ASAP reports that adaptation work is growing fastest in for-profit, private sector companies, including for-profit climate service firms as well as climate-affected firms from a variety of industries across the North American economy. Climate adaptation and resilience jobs cut across a number of different types of work, including communications and outreach, conservation and ecology, economics and finance, education, engineering and design, hazard mitigation, planning, policy, program administration, and project management. Adaptation and resilience work have been both incorporated into existing jobs and resulted in new jobs—one example being the creation of high-level Chief Resilience Officer positions in over 86 cities around the world.6 While it is not currently possible to report on the total number of people employed in the climate adaptation and resilience field in the United States, this is an important area of job growth to track looking forward.

Defining Clean Energy Jobs

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines green jobs as either “jobs in businesses that produce goods and provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources” or as “jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.”7 These definitions include employment in 1) renewable energy; 2) energy efficiency; 3) pollution reduction and removal, greenhouse gas reduction, and recycling and reuse; 4) natural resources conservation; and 5) environmental compliance, education and training, and public awareness.7

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This fact sheet focuses on employment in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors in the United States

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and around the world.

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employed 11 million people in 2018, 700,000 more than in 2017.4

Jobs in energy efficiency experienced significant growth—the sector now

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employs more than 3 million people in the United States.3 IRENA reports that, globally, the renewable energy sector

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Climate adaptation and resilience stand out as rapidly emerging areas of employment as a result of climate change impacts. These sectors will be critical to track in tandem with jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency in the

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coming years.

The job figures cited below are sourced from international organizations, national non-profits, think tanks, and national trade associations. Due to the lack of a single body which conducts job surveys, EESI has collected information from a number of sources which employ different research methodologies and different job definitions in their work. Given that, this fact sheet represents a best effort to portray the status of renewable energy and

energy efficiency jobs with the data that is publicly available.

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