Solar industry jobs are up nearly 20 percent in the 14 months through November 2013 as cheaper panels and rising electricity rates spurred people to turn to solar, according to a report by the nonprofit Solar Foundation research group. At latest count, solar companies employ nearly 143,000 solar workers, up more than 23,000 from September 2012—a job growth rate that’s 10 times faster than the national average and is helping local economies, according to the foundation.
The industry is expected to create 22,000 new jobs in 2014, although at a slower pace than 2013. Cuts of 8,500 positions are projected in the sector that generates electricity from fossil fuels.
Solar firms surveyed in the report said that more than 50 percent of their business and homeowner customers turned to solar to save money, while nearly 23 percent said they invested in panels because costs are now comparable with utility rates. The report noted that the cost of solar equipment has fallen about 50 percent since the beginning of 2010, motivating more people to go green.