These two maps show where wind and solar jobs are in the United States

  • An article highlights the number of jobs in a commuting zone that are wind or solar based on job opening data.
  • Locations with higher shares of job openings that are wind-powered tended to be in the middle of the United States.
  • With the Inflation Reduction Act enacted, there could be more green energy job vacancies.

As the threat of climate change becomes more real every day, the United States is increasingly turning to green energy. And a recent study shows that some parts of the country are already experiencing a boom in wind and solar jobs based on job posting data.

It is according to a analysis using pre-pandemic job postings provided by Lightcast. The paper’s authors find, based on job posting data and what they consider wind and solar employment, that these jobs “are very unevenly distributed across the United States.”

Researchers found the share of 2019 job openings considered wind and solar in 741 commuting areas across the United States. Lightcast, formerly Emsi Burning Glass, provided the data used in the working paper, but the published results come from the authors’ interpretation of what counts as wind and solar jobs. Lightcast told Insider it has a broader definition of green jobs.

Insider mapped the article’s results by commuting zone and matched it to the county or counties to which the commuting zones are mapped. The following map shows the share of job openings that are wind turbines in commuting areas across the United States:

“Commuting areas with a high share of wind-powered employment are concentrated in a vertical strip down the middle of the country from Texas to North Dakota,” the authors wrote.

Outside this “vertical band” was the commuting area with the highest share. Condon, Oregon, 9.66% of job postings were for wind jobs. Vernon, Texas had the second highest share per newspaper at 4.76%.

The paper’s researchers note some limitations to the use of job posting data. For example, it is possible that these openings have not been filled.

The paper’s authors, E. Mark Curtis of Wake Forest University and Ioana Marinescu of the University of Pennsylvania, defined green jobs using three different criteria elements for their analysis. The jobs included had to correspond to at least one. For example, if the job title and/or occupation stated “solar”, “photovoltaic” or “wind”, then this was considered to fall within their definition. Another element is based on rated skills; it must “explicitly” need “a skill related to wind or solar energy”. Additionally, it falls under the definition “if posted by a company that has a relatively high share of jobs requiring wind or solar skills.”

While the wind map shows that shares tend to be higher in the middle of the county, the authors find that the share of solar jobs in an area does not follow exactly the same pattern as wind.

Childress, Texas had the highest share of solar job postings at 6.94%. Another location in Texas, Stephenville, followed behind that percentage. However, it was several percentage points behind, with a 2.35% share.

While some of these percentages seen in the different commuting zones for these two green jobs across the country may seem small, Curtis told Insider they can still have a big impact.

“If you’re talking about 1% of direct wind and solar jobs, especially in some of these communities, that’s a really big deal,” Curtis said.

One state that stood out in the document is Texas, as the document notes it “has a high share of wind and solar jobs.”

“Thus, Texas is already an energy hub for fossil fuels and renewables,” the authors wrote.

With the enactment of the Inflation Reduction Act, more jobs in the clean energy sector are expected to be created

The Inflation Reduction Act is expected to create new jobs in clean energy. Researchers from the Political Economy Research Institute find that it will create more than 900,000 jobs per year on average over 10 years. A White House Fact Sheet also argues that it will create clean energy jobs. The Inflation Reduction Act is also supposed to help reduce emissions and reduce people’s energy costs.

Curtis said based on his findings and those of his co-author that the types of green energy jobs “likely to be created by the [Inflation Reduction Act] will be well paid and located in regions whose economies depend on the extraction of fossil fuels. » To research already suggests that there could be millions of jobs created over 10 years as a result of the Inflation Reduction Act.

Curtis told Insider that a key finding based on the job posting data he and his co-author used is “that the jobs that are being created are largely in areas that currently have high employment. in fossil fuels. He added that this suggests “it will make the transition from a fossil fuel-based energy economy to a renewable energy-based economy smoother than it otherwise would have been.” However, he added ‘we don’t have any direct evidence on this’.

“Given the domestic production requirements that are part of the bill, we should expect to see more solar and wind jobs appear in manufacturing than was seen in the study,” Curtis said. “One of the main reasons why environmental legislation has been so difficult to pass is that it has lacked political support from rural and ‘red’ areas of the country.”

Curtis pointed out that many of the green job openings are in “red” areas of the United States, such as parts of Texas.

“The paper’s findings suggest that jobs created in green energy will largely go to more conservative areas that have historically relied on fossil fuels,” Curtis said. “Future environmental legislation is more likely to be passed if the green energy transition is seen as helping these regions.”

The study not only looked at where wind and solar jobs are in the United States, but also included wind and solar jobs by occupation and industry, wage premiums, education needed, and growth in job vacancies over time. time. Curtis told Insider that one of the takeaways from his and his co-author’s research is just how big the growth in these green energy jobs has been since 2007. They found that the offers for wind and solar jobs had “more than tripled since 2010”.

And more clean or green energy jobs could be created through the Cut Inflation Act.

“Clean energy tax credits will be increased by 10% if clean energy projects are established in communities that previously relied on the extraction, processing, transportation or storage of coal, oil or gas as an important source of employment, creating jobs and economic development in the communities that have powered America for generations,” said fact sheet from the White House about the Inflation Reduction Act said.

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