The solar industry has been in the post-Solyndra dumps. But here comes a timely ray of light: news that solar companies are adding jobs faster than the rest of the economy, and now employ more than 100,000 people nationwide.
The Solar Foundation, the research and education arm of the Solar Energy Industries Association, says the industry added 6,735 jobs from the start of the year through August. Six thousand jobs does not sound like a lot, but it does represent a 6.8% increase. And that is better than the rest of the economy, which had jobs growth of just 0.7 percent, or the fossil fuel industry, which lost 2 percent of its jobs in the same period.
California is the top site for solar-related employment (no surprise there), followed by Colorado and Arizona. They do balance that sunny disposition a bit with a discussion of subsidies:
…there is evidence that subsidizing solar jobs can be expensive. A study (PDF) by Ruhr University of the German solar industry, the world’s most successful and most subsidized solar nation, estimates that its government paid €175,000 per job, more than most workers earn.
[yet also] Between 1918 and 2009, oil and gas industries received $4.86 billion a year from government (adjusted for inflation), according to a recent study by Nancy Pfund, of DBL Investors, and Ben Healey, a Yale student. By contrast, renewables got just $0.37 billion per year between 1994 and 2009–$5.93bn over the period.
I’m still skeptical.