California's advanced energy job sector grew six times faster than statewide employment rate

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More than 500,000 people work in California’s advanced energy industry, new data from the Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) has revealed this week.

The sector, which includes energy efficiency, advanced electricity generation, biofuels, advanced grid technology and advanced vehicles, employs far more people than the motion picture, TV and radio industry (145,000) and agriculture, forestry and fishing (475,000) and – at a growth rate of 18% last year – is closing in on the construction industry for the state, which employs 750,000 people.

According to AEE, the sector’s growth rate was six times that of California’s average employment rate of 3%, and the state boasts the largest fleet of clean and advanced energy experts of any across the nation.

Broken down by sector, energy efficiency employs the bulk of people, comprising 320,000 employees, or 63% of workers in the advanced energy field. However, in terms of growth, the advanced generation sector is the shining star, adding 48,000 new jobs last year to hit a growth rate of 50%. And of this figure, 80% of jobs were created in the solar industry.

Hybrid, electric and natural gas vehicles – which comprise the advanced transportation segment – added 7,000 new workers in 2015 at a growth rate of 65%, while the number of Californian companies engaged in some form of advanced energy reached 43,000.

"With triple the job growth rate of any other sector in our state, clean energy is a major source of job creation in California," said Kevin de Leon, senate president Pro Tem for Los Angeles. "This report shows that policy supporting clean energy is not just good for California’s environment and air, but also for our economy."

Solar’s impressive growth tracks a national trend that saw the industry add 35,000 jobs between November 2014 and November 2015, according to the Solar Foundation’s Solar Jobs Consensus. This represented the third consecutive year of ~20% growth, with solar installers comprising approximately half of the entire workforce. There are now 209,000 solar workers nationwide, with California home to 76,000 of that workforce.