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Fact Sheet: Jobs in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (2017)

Submitted by on February 17, 2017 – 1:07 pmNo Comment

(Environmental and Energy Study Institute)  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines green jobs as either “jobs in businesses that produce goods and provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources” or as “jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources.” These definitions include employment in 1) renewable energy; 2) energy efficiency; 3) pollution reduction and removal, greenhouse gas reduction, and recycling and reuse; 4) natural resources conservation; and 5) environmental compliance, education and training, and public awareness.

In Fiscal Year 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics began collecting data for green jobs as a way of measuring progress in green technology development. Unfortunately, in March of 2013, the Obama Administration was compelled to order across-the-board spending cuts as part of the amended Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act, causing BLS to eliminate the Green Careers program, and thereby the collection of green jobs statistics. The program has not yet been resumed.

In January 2017, DOE published its second annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER). Using the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) and BW Research Partnership’s Energy Employment Index (EEI), USEER presents employment data gathered from the U.S. fossil fuel, nuclear, and green energy industries as of the end of the first quarter of 2016 (Q1 2016). More specifically, USEER compiles employment statistics from four main sectors of the U.S. energy economy: “Electric Power Generation and Fuels,” “Transmission, Distribution, and Storage,” “Energy Efficiency,” and “Motor Vehicles.” All citations of USEER findings in this fact sheet will be in reference to the Q1 2016 EEI employment statistics.

The following sections include employment assessments for the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors from government agencies, nonprofits and industry groups. Many of the assessments include direct employment (directly related to on-site operations), indirect employment (due to the supply of materials to on-site operations), and induced employment (arising from spending by the direct and indirect workers). Data collection methodology and specific job categorizations differ between assessments, because the information for each sector was collected from different sources.


Renewable Fuels: According to USEER, the U.S. renewable fuels industry directly employed 104,663 Americans. IRENA reports that, in 2015, the U.S. “liquid biofuels” sector provided roughly 277,000 jobs. Alternatively, the Fuels America coalition calculated that in 2014 there were 852,056 total renewable fuels jobs in the United States, 292,166 of which were direct jobs, 226,098 were induced, and 333,792 were in the supply chain. The following is a job breakdown for the three main sectors of renewable fuels.

Ethanol: USEER found that the corn ethanol subsector provided 28,613 jobs. On the other hand, IRENA reports that the U.S. ethanol industry employed 227,562 Americans. According to the Renewable Fuels Association, the domestic ethanol sector supported 357,407 jobs at the end of 2015, 85,967 of which were direct and 271,440 indirect/induced. More specifically, Agricultural and Biofuels Consulting, LLP found roughly 10,400 employees working full-time directly in ethanol production facilities.

Biodiesel: USEER includes American biodiesel jobs with the non-corn ethanol and non-woody biomass sectors, totaling 23,088 jobs in Q1 2016. According to IRENA, the U.S. biodiesel sector employed 49,486 Americans at the end of 2015. The National Biodiesel Board found that the domestic biodiesel directly provided roughly 31,000 jobs and supported a total of more than 62,200 jobs nationwide (as of March 2016). LMC International concluded that the biodiesel industry in the United States employed a total of roughly 47,400 jobs (46,500 in domestic production operations, and 900 in projects relating to imported biodiesel).

Advanced Biofuels: USEER found that biofuels production derived from woody biomass and cellulosic feedstocks supported 30,458 direct jobs in Q1 2016. Additionally, USEER reported that renewable fuel projects involving woody biomass employed 18,031 Americans. In 2013, E2 found that advanced biofuel companies reported they were supporting about 4,500 direct, full-time jobs.



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