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Energy jobs grow despite solar dip in 2017

A worker installs solar panels on a roof
Photo: Will Lester/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin via Getty Images

A detailed new report shows that employment in U.S. energy industries grew by 133,000 jobs in 2017 despite the first dip in solar-related employment in several years.

The big winner: The energy efficiency sector alone represented half the growth, adding a net 67,000 new jobs, according to the report.

  • It was released by the National Association of State Energy Officials and the Energy Futures Initiative, a nonprofit led by former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Solar dip: Solar energy companies employed roughly 350,000 on a full- or part-time basis last year, a loss of 24,000 that represents the sector's first employment dip since this dataset was collected in 2010.

  • "The reasons for this decline are still unclear, but could include an increase in labor productivity, market saturation for residential solar, and/or concern over solar panel tariffs," the report states.

Here are a few other snapshots...

  • Employment related to coal-fired power generation held steady at 92,000, while jobs in natural gas-fired power grew by 19,000 — a trend consistent with electricity sector market share that gas and renewables have taken from coal.
  • Wind industry employment grew by around 6% to 107,000.
  • "Jobs in oil and natural gas extraction and coal mining each increased slightly with oil growing by 1.5 percent," the report states.

Go deeper: The Washington Examiner breaks down the report here, while Bloomberg has a helpful chart comparing sectors here.