More than 25,500 clean energy jobs are based in rural regions of North Carolina, representing 25.6 percent of all jobs in this section of the state’s economy, and that’s more rural clean energy jobs than in any other state in the country, a new report from E2 found.
Statewide, 99,670 people are employed in the clean energy sector, putting North Carolina ninth out of all 50 states, trailing Ohio by a few thousand jobs. The lion’s share of employment in the state comes in the energy efficiency sector, with more than 76,000 jobs. Renewable energy roles are held by more than 11,200 workers in the state, and solar and wind energy professionals hold more than 9,100 roles.
Regionally, more than 22,000 people work in clean energy in the Charlotte metropolitan area, more than 16,600 in the Virginia Beach-Newport News metropolitan area, more than 14,200 in Raleigh-Cary, and more than 6,700 in both Durham-Chapel Hill and Greensboro-High Point. Asheville has 6,358 clean energy jobs, 3.15 percent of the region’s total workforce, and Wilmington has 4,510 jobs, 3.4 percent of the region’s workforce.
Job growth in North Carolina’s clean energy industry grew 5.2 percent in 2018 through 2019, found E2, but fell 11.6% by the end of 2020, with 13,050 jobs in the industry lost during the year, the report found.
But there is good news for workers seeking clean energy employment: job growth across the industry in the state of North Carolina is up 16.6 percent between June 2020 and December 2020, the report found.
Nationally, clean energy jobs account for 19 percent of all construction jobs, more than five percent in wholesale trade, and more than four percent of all manufacturing jobs.
“Despite losing nearly 20 percent of its workforce at the mid-year point compared to a nearly 14 percent decline in the overall U.S. workforce, clean energy jobs recovered more than half of its lost jobs by the close of 2020,” the report reads. “The sector is also on track to recover faster than the overall national workforce.”
The fastest growing sub-sector in regards to employment growth is the manufacture of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), which has grown 28 percent between the end of 2017 and the end of 2020, though hydrogen and fuel-cell vehicles have seen losses of nearly 13 percent.
The report found that, for 2020, the wind energy sub-sector added about 2,000 jobs by the end of the year, and clean storage companies added nearly 1,400 jobs. The biggest numerical increases in total employment came from the manufacturing of hybrid electric vehicles (about 6,200) and fully electric vehicles (about 6,000).
“The growth in those areas was in part due to positive policy changes in numerous states to expand clean energy and clean vehicles, as well as the market signal sent by Joe Biden and other candidates for president during the 2020 election, including promises of more electric vehicles and wind energy,” wrote the report’s authors. “It also resulted from increasing demand for electric vehicles and manufacturers’ gearing up to meet that demand.”