Earlier this month, the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) released the 2018 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER). Over the past year, overall energy employment has grown by 162,000 jobs and highlighted some interesting trends.
Although it was issued by the EFI, the report uses the same methodology and data sets as the 2016 and 2017 USEERs, from the U.S. Department of Energy, with additional data from BW Research, a non-partisan applied research firm. In Q3 2017, new leadership at DOE confirmed they would not be releasing a 2018 report. EFI stepped in and worked with BW Research to release the 2018 USEER.
BW Research used publicly available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) and supplemented it by surveying a statistically representative number of energy firms in four sectors: Electric generation; electric power, fuels transmission, and distribution; energy efficiency; and motor vehicles.
Overall energy employment grew by 162,000 new jobs in 2017. Energy efficiency was the largest growth driver, adding 63,000 new jobs. For the first time since 2010, solar energy employment declined, losing 24,000 jobs, mostly in California and Massachusetts. Natural gas added 19,000 new jobs.
Energy job growth rates slowed in 2017, but at 2 percent still exceeded the national average of 1.7 percent. Job growth was uneven across technologies: employment fell in solar, nuclear, pumped hydropower, advanced building materials, and some biofuels sectors. Fossil fuel production rose slightly, and natural gas, combined heat and power, wind, geothermal, battery storage, smart grid, energy efficiency, and corn ethanol all saw increases in employment.
The majority of energy sectors had a difficult time hiring new employees, especially in the energy efficient construction field. Energy efficient construction employees are any construction workers who spend more than half their time on specifically energy efficient construction. Within the energy efficient construction industry, 83 percent of employers report they had either a somewhat or very difficult time finding qualified candidates in 2017. Overall, 70 percent of energy employers had a difficult time hiring.
Slowing job growth in energy follows a national trend of slowing job growth. The United States is facing a tight labor market nationwide, and energy is no exception. Do you want to see how your state is doing with energy employment? USEER includes a state-by-state analysis, as well as a nationwide overview.