Report: Solar Jobs Increased 25 Percent In US Last Year

The solar energy industry now employs more than 260,000 workers in the U.S.

The solar energy industry now employs more than 260,000 workers in the U.S. after a 25 percent increase in jobs last year.

The Solar Foundation's latest annual National Solar Jobs Census also said that solar energy was responsible for one in every 50 new jobs created in the U.S. in 2016.

The census said that the more than 50,000 jobs added last year represented the largest increase, by percentage, since the foundation began issuing the report in 2010. Panel installers accounted for majority of new jobs as solar panels continue to decline in price.

Solar Foundation president and executive director Andrea Luecke said that solar jobs in the U.S. nearly tripled since that initial report.

"More than ever, it’s clear that solar energy is a low-cost, reliable, super-abundant American energy source that is driving economic growth, strengthening businesses and making our cities smarter and more resilient," Luecke said in a statement.

The Washington Post noted that the solar industry is the second-largest energy industry in the U.S. — trailing only oil and petroleum — and employs many more Americans than the coal sector.

The sharp increase last year, the Post reported, was likely due to the anticipated expiration of a tax credit for solar investment. The 2016 expiration date, however, was pushed back and the will now be phased out between 2019 and 2022.

Analysts said that although the industry is expected to increase more modestly this year, decreasing solar panel costs and growing acceptance of solar systems by homeowners and businesses alike will sustain growth despite a White House that's much less likely to emphasize renewable energy.

The Post reported that President Donald Trump's energy plan doesn't mention solar energy at all.

The Solar Foundation also noted that the increased jobs were not confined to specific states or regions. Solar employment climbed in 44 of 50 states, according to the census, and although liberal stalwarts California and Massachusetts employed the largest numbers of solar workers, they were followed by Texas, Nevada and Florida.

The Post also reported that the solar electrical capacity added last year likely set a record as well.

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