Energy jobs were lost in 2020, but they’re coming back


Once one of the fastest-growing job markets in the country, the energy sector was especially hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to the loss of 840,000 jobs by the end of 2020, roughly 10% of the sector’s total workforce in 2020, according to the newest edition of the Department of Energy’s U.S. Energy Employment Report (USEER).

That year-end figure includes a bit of late-year recovery, as, at the height of the pandemic, the energy sector saw a peak job loss of 1.4 million.

Under the larger umbrella of energy, the USEER covers five major sub-sectors: electric power generation, transmission, distribution, and storage, fuels, energy efficiency, and motor vehicles. The combination of electric power generation; transmission, distribution, and storage; and fuels is the largest employer with 3.1 million workers. That number was a 9.8% decline from 2019. Second largest was motor vehicles with 2.3 million jobs, a 9.0% decline, and energy efficiency with 2.1 million, an 11.4% decline.

Electric power generation lost 63,300 jobs from 2019 to 2020 for a total of 833,600 jobs, but not each generation source was hit equally hard. For example, wind added 2,000 jobs, an increase of 1.8%, while solar (which includes both concentrated solar and PV), was hit especially hard, losing 28,700 jobs, the most of any generating source.

The report said that by the end of 2020, some 520,000 energy jobs had already returned, nearly one-third of the peak losses that occurred in 2020. Additionally, employers that responded to the DOE survey also signaled confidence in the upward employment trend continuing through 2021.

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