Source: Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis
Developing and installing the technology to reduce fossil fuel use — known in the industry as “energy efficiency” — creates many more jobs than fossil fuels.
Energy efficiency jobs in the United States totaled 2.18 million in 2016, more than double the total of fossil fuel production and fossil-fuel based electricity generation combined.
They’re growing at a much faster rate, too. From 2015 to 2016, there was 53 percent employment growth in advanced and recycled building materials, and 59 percent employment growth in Energy Star appliances. Compare that to just 9 percent growth in fossil fuel-based electricity generation.
These energy efficiency jobs are much cheaper to create. According to an academic study, every $1 million invested in energy efficiency creates 12 jobs, compared to just 4 or 5 for fossil fuel jobs.
These are good, well-paying jobs. For example, electricians have a median hourly pay of $26, and the corresponding numbers for heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) workers and carpenters are $22.64 and $21.71, respectively. (Compare that to the median hourly pay for all U.S. workers, $18.12.)
These jobs are more likely to be unionized, too. And they’re a great way to lift up people who’ve been left out of the fossil fuel economy.
For example, Illinois has passed legislation requiring larger utilities to create renewable energy and energy efficiency job training programs, especially for people from economically disadvantaged communities — including youth of color, formerly incarcerated people, individuals who’ve been in the foster care system as children, and others.
Oregon is another success story. Forty-seven percent of new jobs created through Oregon’s statewide residential energy efficiency program — and 55 percent of the hours worked — went to women and people of color. Median hourly wages for these jobs were 7 percent higher than the median hourly wage of $17.24 for all Oregon workers, and 81 percent of workers had health benefits.