U.S. energy employment report: statistics by gender, age, race, and union status

USEER May 2018 reportThe 2018 U.S. Energy & Employment Report (USEER) was released in May, reporting that the traditional Energy and Energy Efficiency sectors employ approximately 6.5 million Americans, with a job growth rate of approximately 133,000 net new jobs in 2017 – approximately 7% of total U.S. new job growth.   The report provides detailed employment data for energy sectors including Electric Power Generation and Fuels Production (including biofuels, solar, wind, hydro and nuclear) and Electricity Transmission, Distribution and Storage. It also includes two energy end-use sectors: Energy Efficiency and Motor Vehicle production (including alternative fuel vehicles and parts production).  It is important to note that, unlike many other sources, this survey includes only direct jobs, and not indirect and induced jobs.

In addition to overall employment totals, the report provides an in-depth view of the hiring difficulty, in-demand occupations, and demographic composition of the workforce – including breakdowns by gender, age, race and by union composition.  As an example for solar electric power generation: “about a third of the solar workforce in 2017 was female, roughly two in ten workers are Hispanic or Latino, and under one in ten are Asian or are Black or African American. In 2017, solar projects involving PV technologies had a higher concentration of workers aged 55 and over, compared to CSP technologies.”

The previous USEER reports for 2016  and 2017  were compiled and published by the U.S. Department of Energy.  In 2018, under the Trump Administration, two non-profit organizations,  the National Association of State Energy Officials and the Energy Futures Initiative, took over the task of compiling the data, using the identical survey instrument developed by the DOE.  Timing was coordinated so that year over year comparisons with the precious surveys are possible.  Peer review of the report was performed by Robert Pollin, (Political Economy Research Institute) and  James Barrett, (Visiting Fellow, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy).  The overview website, with free data tables at the state level, is here   .

Nova Scotia Moving away from Coal-fired Electricity

In Our Electricity Future: Nova Scotia’s Electricity Plan , released on November 9, 2015 the government pledges to be a “green powerhouse” by 2040. Coal will be phased out in favour of renewable electricity so that “By 2050 or before, Nova Scotia’s electricity utilities may be nearly carbon free”. According to the press release,  the plan also commits $1.5 million over the next three years to support pilot projects to research technologies related to electricity use, management, and storage, as well as solar and tidal energy. Amendments to the Public Utilities Act and Electricity Act are promised “this fall” to support the electricity plan. Commentary  appears in Rabble.ca, and a summary  appears in CleanTech Letter (Nov. 10).

U.S. CLEAN POWER PLAN AND ITS EMPLOYMENT IMPACTS

The U.S. Clean Power Plan  mandates a 30 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants by 2030, using the baseline year of 2005. The Plan, submitted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the White House Office of Management and Budget on June 1, now proceeds to review and is expected to be finalized in August 2015 – when it is also expected that legal challenges will begin immediately. Good background reading about the CPP:   The Clean Power Plan: A Climate Game Changer   from the Union of Concerned Scientists. The Center for Energy and Climate Solutions website has compiled links to detailed documents, (including an April 2015 report on the impact of the CPP on Canadian hydropower exports to the U.S. .) Amidst the controversy,  the Economic Policy Institute has released Employment Impacts of the Proposed Clean Power Plan in the U.S., by Josh Bivens. Bivens disputes the employment impact analysis done by the EPA. He concludes that the Clean Power Plan is likely to lead to a net increase in of roughly 360,000 jobs by 2020, but that the net job creation will diminish rapidly to approximately 15,000 jobs in 2030. Bivens differentiates between job-gaining and job-losing industries, and characterizes the workers in job-losing industries as less likely to have four-year college degrees, and substantially more likely to be unionized. He also points to a geographic concentration of gross job losses in poorer states. Another report, Assessment of the Economy-wide Employment Impacts of EPA’s Proposed Clean Power Plan  was released by the University of Maryland in April 2015. Perhaps the most controversial on this topic: “Potential impact of Proposed EPA Regulations on Low Income Groups and Minorities”, was authored by Roger Bezdek and published by the National Black Chamber of Commerce in June . Its dire predictions include that by 2035, job losses would total 7 million for Blacks and nearly 12 million for Hispanics. The Bezdek study is roundly criticized by the Union of Concerned Scientists in “ New Flawed Study of the Clean Power Plan: How the MISI Study Gets It So Wrong”  and by the National Resources Defense Council which states: “We should not let the polluter industry mislead us through the use of junk science and “mercenaries with PhDs” whose only goal is to prioritize polluter profits over the well-being and health of people.”

Jobs in Canada’s Hydroelectric Industry

A May report by Prism Economics estimates that the hydroelectric sector contributed nearly US$31 billion to the country’s gross domestic product. Hydropower and the Canadian Economy: Jobs and Investment in Canada’s Largest Electricity Source also states that in 2013, “Canada’s hydropower industry’s investment and operations expenditures sustained an estimated 57,800 jobs (FTE) in Canada. When inter-industry purchases are factored in, the number of jobs rises to 100,000 jobs. In total, the investment and operations expenditures made by Canada’s hydroelectric power sector support over 135,400 (FTE) direct, indirect and induced jobs across Canada.”

Obama Announces a Climate Action Plan – and EPA Announces New Limits for Coal and Gas-Fired Power Plants

On June 25, U.S. President Obama laid out a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, prepare for the impacts of climate change, and lead global efforts to fight it. He based his arguments on moral, health, and economic grounds, and emphasized his personal commitment by announcing steps that he could authorize, without Congressional approval. Read the plan at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/energy/climate-change. The first major step in this plan came on September 20, when the Environmental Protection Agency proposed limits on carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal- and gas-fired power plants. The rules are not likely to be finalized until Fall of 2014 and will face aggressive opposition from the U.S. coal industry.

See the New York Times article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/20/us/politics/obama-administration-announces-limits-on-emissions-from-power-plants.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130920  and also “Challenges Await Plan to reduce Emissions” at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/21/business/energy-environment/challenges-await-plan-to-reduce-emissions.html?src=un&feedurl=http%3A%2F%2Fjson8.nytimes.com%2Fpages%2Fpolitics%2Findex.jsonp