The U.S. Department of Energy recently released the agency’s first annual analysis of how changes in America’s energy profile are affecting national employment in multiple energy sectors. By using a combination of existing energy employment data and a new survey of energy sector employers, the inaugural U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) provides a broad view of the national current energy employment landscape.
USEER examines four sectors of the economy — electric power generation and fuels; transmission, wholesale distribution, and storage; energy efficiency; and motor vehicles — which cumulatively account for almost all of the United States’ energy production and distribution system and roughly 70 percent of U.S. energy consumption. By looking at such a wide portion of the energy economy, USEER can provide the public and policy makers with a clearer picture of how changes in energy technology, systems, and usage are affecting the economy and creating or displacing jobs.
Some key findings of the report include: 3.64 million Americans work in traditional energy industries, including production, transmission, distribution, and storage.
Of these, 600,000 employees contribute to the production of low-carbon electricity, including renewable energy, nuclear energy and low emission natural gas.
An additional 1.9 million Americans are employed, in whole or in part, in energy efficiency.
Roughly 30 percent of the 6.8 million employees in the U.S. construction industry work on energy or building energy efficiency projects.
A copy of the full report is available HERE.
The report also found several energy industries with projected increases in new jobs. Responding to the USEER survey of employers, the energy efficiency sector predicted hiring rates of 14 percent in 2016, or almost 260,000 new hires. Projected hiring rates were at five percent within the electric power generation and fuels sector, reflecting overall growth despite a loss of employment in 2015 in the oil and natural gas extraction sectors. Transmission, wholesale distribution, and storage firms anticipate four percent employment growth in 2016. Solar energy firms predicted 15 percent job growth over the next year.
Yet even as the report found the opportunity for job growth in many energy sectors, over 70 percent of all employers surveyed found it “difficult or very difficult” to hire new employees with needed skills.
“The transformation of our energy system and the growth of energy efficiency technologies are creating opportunities for thousands of new jobs, especially in energy efficiency and solar,” said David Foster, Senior Advisor on Energy and Industrial Policy at the Department of Energy. “This report gives an important snapshot of energy employment in America, and subsequent reports will provide better information to guide policies and priorities that create new jobs, appropriately train workers, and promote a successful national energy policy.”
USEER relies on a combination of employment data sets including the Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census on Employment and Wages and the proprietary Energy Employment Index, a supplemental survey developed by BW Research Partnership. This approach provides a quantitative analysis of how the four sectors provide direct employment across the economy within other occupations. DOE will conduct subsequent surveys to provide annual USEER reports that will provide year-over-year analysis of the American energy employment landscape.
“This report highlights the impact of a changing energy sector on the existing construction market,” said Joseph Sellers, Jr., General President of the 208,000 member International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART). “SMART sheet metal workers construct new energy efficient buildings and retrofit existing structures. SMART apprentices and journeymen are taking advantage of our training and industry programs to continually enhancing their skills and devise new processes to facilitate the use of emerging technologies. It’s encouraging to see that employers recognize the need for these skills while they look to participate in this developing market.”
“The USEER confirms that America’s electric power companies provide rewarding careers for more than one million Americans, directly and indirectly,” said Mary Miller, Chief Administrative Officer for the Edison Electric Institute. “These careers include traditional energy sources, transmission and renewable energy development. Electric power companies are responsible for the majority of the jobs in the renewable energy sector, as solar from utilities accounts for nearly 60 percent of all installed solar capacity on the power grid today. Additionally, electric companies are responsible for the development of almost all of the other renewable capacity including wind, geothermal and biomass. Our industry will continue to work closely with our government partners as we develop the future workforce needed to provide all Americans with affordable, reliable and safe energy.”