COVID-19 pandemic swallows 18% clean energy jobs, stalling years of industry growth, says GlobalData

The clean energy sector had been one of the biggest and fastest-growing sectors in the US since 2015, having employed over 3 million people. However, during March, April, and May, over half a million clean energy workers lost their jobs in the US and filed for unemployment benefits. The total clean energy job loss stands at over 620,000 jobs, as stay-at-home orders and a weakened economy forced employers to carry out layoffs and job cuts. More than 50% of the job losses took place in the energy efficiency segment. More than 60% of the loss of employment took place in April itself. This trend is expected to continue in June, where over 100,000 jobs might be lost.

As per the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), in June, instead of increasing over 17%, jobs in the industry are expected to reduce by over 20% in comparison with last year. This has been one of the fastest-growing industries in the country, which could play a crucial role in the path of the economic recovery of the country. A rise in unemployment would significantly weaken the industry.

The recent benefits that the industry has seen in the country are through tax equity financing, or the extension of safe harbor deadlines concerning production and investment tax credits for wind and solar energy developers. As a measure to safeguard the industry from the present worries, both the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee is considering clean energy stimulus to restart the U.S. economy. This would bring some relief to the clean energy workers and industry.

Somik Das, Senior Power Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “ In early 2020, before the COVID-19 started in the U.S., clean energy employment increased for the fifth straight year to employ more than 3 million workers across the US. However, the current layoffs and unemployment, would not only impact the well-being of employees and their families but also the growth that the industry had seen over the last few years.

“Amid the crisis companies are starting to run out of the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) funding, that had helped small businesses keep their workers employed. With unemployment predicted for June, the industry is in the dire need of Congress’ intervention, which might bring some relief. ”

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