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Study: Solar industry jobs surged in 2016

Study: Solar industry jobs surged in 2016

Employment in the solar industry in the United States “grew at a historic pace in 2016,” an industry group reported on Tuesday, with solar energy producers adding 51,000 jobs over the course of the year. 

According to the Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census for 2016, the industry's workforce grew by 25 percent over 2015 levels, the largest annual increase since the Foundation started its jobs census in 2010. There are now more than 260,000 solar jobs in the United States. 

All told, one in every 50 new jobs in the U.S. last year were in the solar sector.  

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The group attributed the increase in employment to a decline in the cost of solar panels and larger consumer demand for solar installations. 

“More than ever, it’s clear that solar energy is a low-cost, reliable, super-abundant American energy source that is driving economic growth, strengthening businesses, and making our cities smarter and more resilient,” Andrea Luecke, the president and executive director of the Solar Foundation, said in a statement.

The new study will likely add firepower to arguments from Democrats and clean energy supporters against the Trump administration, which has prioritized fossil fuels in its energy plan.

Proponents of renewable energy already note, for example, that the American solar industry is a larger employer than U.S. coal companies. The industry lags behind only the oil industry in terms of energy sector employment.