The U.S. solar industry added 26,600 new jobs last year according to new a report, more than were created among oil and gas extractors, utilities, or coal—the latter of which saw net job losses.
According to a new survey from The Solar Foundation, the solar industry’s jobs growth rate is now 20x faster than the nation’s. The foundation now counts 173,807 solar workers in America.
“It’s pretty significant when you think about the solar industry being very small — it’s still less than 1 percent of our energy generation — but it created [more than 1 percent] of all new jobs over last year,” said Andrea Leucke, executive director at The Solar Foundation.
Most of the new jobs were in installation, which makes sense, since solar was also the fastest-growing source of new U.S. power last year, climbing 39 percent between November 2013 and November 2014.
The average solar job wage was $20-$24, with the mean wage climbing 1.6 percent. Solar salespeople earned as much as $60 an hour. An additional 10,000 occupations added some solar-related function to their job description.
SolarCity, chaired by Elon Musk, added 4,000 new U.S. jobs, and is now the largest solar employer in the U.S.
The solar industry expects to add an additional over 36,000 solar jobs over the next 12 months, which would represent the third consecutive year that annual solar job growth was near or above twenty percent.
The survey queried more than 270,000 businesses and corporations.
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.