Solar energy workers account for most U.S. electricity jobs

People who work for solar panel companies account for nearly half of all Americans employed by electricity companies, according to a U.S. Department of Energy’s report released this month.

Solar energy technologies employ 374,000 workers, or 43 percent of the work force, double the number of people who work fossil fuel-based energy companies that use coal, oil and natural gas for electric companies. For purposes of the report, which counted jobs in 2016, the department expanded its definition of solar employees to include anyone who was involved in any aspect of the industry, including manufacturing, installation and distribution.

The high percentage of solar energy employees comes from a rise in renewable energy sources as well as the nature of the job, which requires more employees for construction, according to the Energy Department. Four out of 10 workers in the solar sector are involved with construction and installation.

Of additions to all energy sources last year, renewable energy sources, like wind and solar, were the greatest, the Energy Department has found.