The energy sector was a huge source of new job creation over the course of 2021 and jobs focused on the electric vehicle industry showed the highest growth.
That's the word from a new Department of Energy study revealing the contribution of energy jobs to the U.S. workforce.
Job growth in the energy patch, which saw a steep decline in 2020, rebounded in 2021, according to the DOE's energy employment report. Those new jobs were led by blistering growth in electric vehicle and hybrid manufacturing.
Electric vehicle jobs increased by 26.2% over 2020's numbers, adding 21,961 new jobs. More hybrid electric manufacturing meant 19.7% growth in that arena, or 23,577 new jobs added.
"As a nation, it is crucial that we do all that we can to ensure that the growth of these sectors continues and that the jobs created are good, union jobs. That is why it is so important the United States invests in clean energy, targeted to communities that need it most—including energy transition communities—and strong labor and domestic content standards,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Jason Walsh.
Walsh's organization creates opportunities for labor unions and the renewable energy industry to collaborate on economic growth initiatives and is a proponent of the Build Back Better initiatives the Biden Administration has put in place.
"The Biden administration has made the creation of good, union jobs a core focus of their work to fight climate change," Walsh said. "If we are to build a clean economy that works for all, we need many partners in that work."
Overall jobs focused on energy and decarbonization climbed 4.0%, beating overall U.S. employment, which grew by 2.8%.
According to the DOE, there are more than 3 million jobs, or 40% of total energy jobs, that are working to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
“Amidst the unique challenges of a nation coming out of a global pandemic, America’s energy sector stands out with considerable job growth across nearly all industries,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, in a statement. “DOE’s USEER report shows that jobs critical to our clean energy transition are on the rise and poised for continued expansion thanks to the historic investments from the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”
First established in 2016 under the Trump Administration, the DOE's employment report covers electric power generation, motor vehicles, energy efficiency, transmission, distribution and storage, and fuels.
While electric vehicles led the way in job creation, jobs in the renewable power development like solar and wind grew 5.4% and 2.9% respectively.
And which states that are reaping the benefit of these green jobs? Texas, California and Michigan were the top contenders for job growth, but surprisingly, the traditional coal country of West Virginia is becoming a source of new jobs in the energy storage sector (likely due to the mining skills that are needed to source the raw materials for batteries).
Despite the positive signs, the industry has yet to recover to the levels of employment before the pandemic. That's why there are new spending initiatives on energy efficiency and renewables in the $62 billion spending package for clean energy infrastructure.