The solar industry reports job growth 20 times higher than the rest of the U.S. economy, according to a new analysis.
As of 2014, there were nearly 174,000 jobs in the solar industry, according to the report from the nonprofit Solar Foundation. That represents 86 percent employment growth since the organization began tracking job figures in 2010. By the end of 2015, companies said they expect to hire an additional 36,000 new solar workers.
The solar industry installed 7,200 megawatts of new solar power last year, the foundation said.
More than half of the solar industry jobs -– 55 percent -– involved installation, and 19 percent were in manufacturing. The report found those jobs pay an average of $20 to 24 an hour.
“We can very definitely say that these solar jobs are good, well-paying jobs, which I think is important,” Andrea Luecke, executive director of the Solar Foundation, said in an interview with The Huffington Post. “While the economy has improved since we started this census series in 2010, at the height of recession, there are still lots of people without college degrees looking for work. Solar provides that kind of work.”
The report found that 21.6 percent of workers in the solar industry were women. Latino workers made up 16.3 percent of the workforce, while Asian and Pacific islanders represented 7 percent. African-Americans made up 6 percent of solar staffers.
Luecke said the recent growth is largely due the surge in solar installations.