Chart: Which states have the most solar and wind power jobs?

Clean energy technologies, including solar and wind, accounted for nearly 87 percent of net new electric power generation jobs in the U.S. last year.
By Maria Virginia Olano

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A worker wearing safety gear installs photovoltaic panels. Large wind turbines in background. caption says chart of the week.

Canary Media’s chart of the week translates crucial data about the clean energy transition into a visual format.

Renewable energy is one of the fastest-growing employers in the United States, and the states leading the way in clean energy deployment — California and Texas — are also in first place for wind and solar jobs.

Clean energy technologies, including solar and wind, accounted for nearly 87% of net new electric power generation jobs last year, adding 22,279 jobs in 2022, according to the Department of Energy’s 2023 U.S. Energy and Employment Report. Solar had the largest number of jobs gained, adding 12,256 workers and wind — both onshore and offshore — added 5,416 jobs in 2022.

Solar power is particularly labor-intensive and employs the most people out of all types of power generation. In 2022, there were more than 340,000 solar jobs across the country, with sunny California accounting for over one-third of them. Massachusetts has the second-most solar jobs in the country, but at just over 16,000, it’s far behind California; Texas and New York follow it, with about 15,000 solar jobs each. And the sector is only expected to keep growing — nearly half of all new power-plant capacity slated to be added in 2023 is solar power.

Wind has a much smaller workforce than solar, with about 125,000 workers in 2022 — but its workforce is growing faster than that of most other energy technologies. Offshore wind jobs alone grew more than 20 percent from 2021 to 2022.

The Lone Star State has 26,000 wind jobs, making it the biggest wind-employment state in the nation. And it’s no coincidence, since Texas has also led the nation in wind-powered electricity generation for over a decade, producing nearly 26 percent of U.S. wind energy in 2021. (Texas is on its way to beating California as the leader in utility-scale solar, too.) Illinois, Colorado and California follow far behind Texas in wind workforce numbers, and despite producing the most amount of wind power after Texas, Iowa ranks No. 10 in terms of wind jobs.

In the electric power sector overall, renewable energy jobs already far outnumber those in fossil fuel generation. Wind generation alone employs more than twice as many people in the U.S. as coal power generation, and despite still providing about 40 percent of the country’s electricity in 2022, natural gas electricity employed just over 118,000 people. In contrast, solar and wind employed more than 471,000 workers while supplying about 14 percent of the country’s electricity in the same year.

A significant number of these jobs — about half for solar, and just over one-third for wind — are in construction, which tend to be temporary arrangements. But there’s no sign of the renewable energy buildout slowing down, meaning the need for construction workers will continue for the foreseeable future.

In fact, the Inflation Reduction Act and the U.S. goals of decarbonizing the grid by 2035 will help further accelerate the already exponential deployment of solar and wind. That means the clean energy job juggernaut will only grow larger in the years to come.

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Maria Virginia Olano is chief of staff at Canary Media.