Solar industry adds 31,000 jobs

The solar power industry added 31,000 jobs in 2014, about 20 times the job growth rate of the rest of the economy.

The 21.8 percent growth rate brought the solar sector to 173,807 total U.S. jobs, according to the Solar Foundation’s annual job survey.

“The solar industry has once again proven to be a powerful engine of economic growth and job creation,” Andrea Luecke, president of the Solar Foundation, said in a statement.

“Our census findings show that one out of every 78 new jobs created in the U.S. over the past 12 months was created by the solar industry — nearly 1.3% of all jobs.”

In a statement from the group, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the growth rate “ is further evidence that we can clean our air and cut climate pollution while also growing the economy.”

The solar industry plans to add another 36,000 jobs, for 20.9 percent growth, over the next 12 months, the foundation said.

But the foundation is also using the report to advocate for tax incentives. It said companies are worried about upcoming reductions in the 30 percent investment tax credit that incentivizes solar power construction.

Sixty percent of companies in the sector expect the reduction to affect their business prospects, especially those in the installation business, 62 percent of which expect to lay off workers when the tax credit drops to 10 percent next December.