Jobs in the United States’ solar industry have increased during the last 14 months, according to a new report by The Solar Foundation (TSF). The industry has produced over 142,000 jobs in the US overall and 50,000 jobs since 2012 – a growth rate of 53 percent in four years.

That’s 10 times faster than the national average employment growth rate of 1.9 percent during the same time period. Since data was collected for Census 2012, 1 in every 142 new jobs in the US was created by the solar industry.

Solar installations boomed in 2013; the residential segment had it best quarter on record last year. Falling costs of solar – and rising electric costs – have made solar more affordable. The average price of a solar panel had dropped 60 percent since the beginning of 2011, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

“The solar industry’s job-creating power is clear,” Andrea Luecke, Executive Director and President of The Solar Foundation said in a statement. “For the fourth year running, solar jobs remain well-paid and attract highly-skilled workers. That growth is putting people back to work and helping local economies.”

According to the Foundation, solar companies report that cost savings are driving client’s to use solar – 51.4 percent of customers report switching to solar to save money, and 22.9 percent report switching because the rates are now competitive with utility rates.

“More than 90 percent of Americans believe we should be using more solar, and fewer than one percent have it today,” Lyndon Rive, Chief Executive Officer of SolarCity said in a statement. “We’ve barely begun this transformation, but as it advances, the American solar industry has the potential to be one of the greatest job creators this country has ever seen.”

Employers from each sector examined in the census expect “significant employment growth” over the next year, nearly all of them projecting job growth to be in the double-digits. TSF estimated that approximately 22,240 new solar jobs will be created during this year.

“When you install a solar panel you create a local job that can’t be outsourced,” Rive said.

In December, as part of his National Climate Action Plan, President Obama signed a Memorandum directing the federal government to double its use of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

“President Obama has set an ambitious goal to double electricity generation from renewable sources once again by 2020, and a vibrant US workforce is vital to achieving this,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said of the 2013 Solar Jobs Census.

TSF National Solar Jobs Census Graphic













Image via: The Solar Foundation

Alisha is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. You can follow her on Twitter @childoftheearth.