The energy sector employs 7.8 million people in the United States, and about 41% of those jobs, about 3.1 million people, are dedicated to net-zero technologies. This, and other insights were shared in the U.S. Energy and Employment Report run by the Department of Energy.
Energy jobs grew at a faster rate than the overall job market in 2021, increasing 4% versus the 2.8% increase experienced nationwide. Solar jobs led the way for generation technologies, adding 17,212 jobs, an increase of 5.4%.
Solar was followed by wind, which added 3,347 jobs, a 2.9% boost, and hydropower, which added 1,383 jobs, an increase of 2.2%.
Transmission, distribution, and storage sectors employed 1.3 million people in 2021. Traditional transmission and distribution jobs increased by 13,008, a 1.4% increase. Battery jobs grew by 4.4%, increasing in both grid storage and electric vehicle sectors, adding 2,949 jobs. Smart grid jobs increased 4.9%, adding 1,136 jobs.
Fossil fuels have continued to decrease in employment as the global economy works to transition to emissions-free energy. U.S. petroleum jobs fell sharply by 6.4%, shedding 31,593 jobs. Both onshore and offshore industries were impacted by the losses. The coal fuel industry declined by the greatest percentage, losing 7,125 jobs, 11.8% of the sector.
The nuclear industry also declined in employment, shedding 4.2% of jobs, representing 2,440 jobs.
Energy efficiency is another key element in the energy transition, and it employs over 2.1 million U.S. workers. The sector added 57,741 jobs in 2021. Traditional HVAC jobs added the most workers (17,740), followed by Energy Star appliance and service jobs (12,941), and renewable heating and cooling jobs (4,027).
The electric vehicle boom is well underway, with the full electric battery vehicle sector increasing by an impressive 26.2%. That sector added 21,961 jobs, while the hybrid vehicle sector grew by 19.7%, adding 23,577 jobs.
Unions hold a more significant position in the energy sector than the broader job market, representing 10% of all 2021 energy jobs versus 6% of the private sector overall.
This March, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said the world will need 5.2 TW of solar power generation capacity by 2030, and 14TW by mid-century, to have any chance of limiting global average temperature rises this century to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a critical threshold in limiting the worst effects of climate change.
IRENA estimated the 12 million global job losses it anticipates in the fossil fuel and nuclear industries will be comfortably outweighed by “close to” 85 million new energy-transition roles this decade, including 26.5 million in clean energy.
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