Florida loses nearly 30,000 clean energy jobs
solar panels

The job losses mean years of growth setbacks.

Nearly 30,000 Floridians working in the clean energy sector lost their jobs during the pandemic.

A BW Research Partnerships analysis of Department of Labor data found more than 1 in 6 clean energy workers nationwide filed unemployment claims since the beginning of the pandemic.

The study, conducted for a coalition of renewable energy advocates, found Florida among the hardest hit states with, 3,693 workers who filed unemployment claims in March, and another 25,915 in April.

“The economic data from April shows that the job losses from the COVID-19 pandemic are worse than expected,” said Phil Jordan, vice president and principal at BW. “Unemployment claims increased dramatically across many key segments of the clean energy sector, such as construction and manufacturing. And the data does not suggest that we have yet to hit the bottom.”

Nationwide, claims across the sector show 594,347 lost their jobs between March and April. The bulk of those worked in energy efficiency, a field that on its own accounted for 413,486 of the lost jobs.

The job losses mean years of growth set backs, according to Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), the American Council on Renewable Energy and E4TheFuture. Lost jobs within the sector double the number created since 2019. Up until the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the clean energy sector has been one of the fastest expanding in America, growing 10.4% since 2015 to 3.4 million jobs at the end of 2019.

“Unprecedented economic impacts of COVID-19 are beyond daunting, for the whole clean energy industry — though the industry is nevertheless setting its sights on recovery and adapting to seek possible solutions,” said Steve Cowell, president of E4TheFuture.

As for what must happen now, leaders in the field called in the federal government to provide targeted assistance to clean energy. If Congress doesn’t take action to help the industry, total job losses are expected to reach 850,000 by the end of June.

“Americans in every state – red, blue, purple – are losing clean energy jobs across a wide swath of occupations – electricians, technicians, installers and factory workers,” said Bob Keefe, executive director of E2. “Congress needs to include clean energy in any future economic stimulus package to help stem this massive loss of jobs today and set the foundation for a stronger, cleaner and more resilient economy tomorrow.”

Industry leaders say an expansion and extension of tax credits would also ease the economic pain.

“Renewable energy job losses in the month of April were unfortunately even worse than we feared,” said Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is delivering an unprecedented blow to renewable industry workers, whose job losses more than tripled over the past month. Congress can help get these Americans back to work, and help get our economy back on track, with commonsense relief for time-sensitive tax credit deadlines and temporary refundability for renewable tax credits that are increasingly difficult to monetize.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].

One comment


    May 25, 2020 at 9:37 am

    Shocking reportage as the clean energy sector is hit hard. What is your assessment, then, of the Green New Deal legislation, as proposed, or prospects for passage in whatever form, come the next administration? And, on the State level, what are the prospects of any relief or support for this industry?

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