Solar Industry Employment Up in 20% in 2013

The number of jobs tied to the U.S. solar energy sector increased by nearly 20 percent in 2013, according to an annual survey by the Solar Foundation released Monday.

The foundation, a nonprofit educational and statistical arm of the industry, found an estimated 142,628 solar workers in the U.S. economy — defined as those who spend 50 percent or more of their time supporting solar-related activities — as of November 2013. It was the fastest job growth in the survey’s four-year history.

California’s booming solar market should figure prominently when state and local data are released next month.

Of 23,682 estimated new U.S. solar jobs, about half were devoted to the installation of solar equipment.

The average solar installer earned about $23 an hour, comparable to some skilled electricians and plumbers, and higher than the average rate for roofers and construction laborers.

Jobs in project development grew at the fastest rate, more than doubling to 12,169, followed by sales and distribution jobs that grew by about 24 percent to more than 22,500.

Jobs in solar equipment manufacturing were virtually unchanged, at 29,851.

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