Solar jobs fall amid Trump tariffs

The solar power industry in the U.S. lost more than 3 percent of its jobs last year as it attempted to adjust to President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE’s tariffs on imported solar panels.

The Solar Foundation said in its annual National Solar Jobs Census released Tuesday that the industry employed 242,343 people last year, down about 8,000 jobs, or 3.2 percent, from 2017.

It was the industry's second straight year of job declines. The foundation is blaming both the tariffs Trump imposed last year in an effort to protect domestic manufacturers and growing uncertainty over state-level solar incentives in key states like Massachusetts and California.

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Despite the nationwide dip, 29 states saw increases in solar jobs, and factors like big planned projects and new incentives in some states mean 2019 could be a year of improvement, the report said.

“Despite two challenging years, the long-term outlook for this industry remains positive as even more Americans turn to low-cost solar energy and storage solutions to power their homes and businesses,” Andrea Luecke, president of the Solar Foundation, said in a statement.

“However, it will take exceptional leadership at the federal, state, and local levels to spur this growth and address the urgent challenge of climate change. Expanding solar energy and storage across America will create high-quality jobs, reduce carbon emissions, boost local economies, and build resilient and adaptive communities.”

The report found that about 155,000, or two-thirds of the total, of solar industry jobs are in installation and project development. Out of those, about 56 percent work on residential projects.

Demographics in the industry were almost unchanged from 2017, with just 26 percent of the workforce being women, 17 percent Latino and 8 percent black.

2018 was the first year that the group counted Puerto Rico, which has 1,997 solar jobs. The year-to-year comparison did not include Puerto Rico.