Clean energy industries employ over 76,000 workers, report shows

Wisconsin’s clean energy industries employ eight times more people than the fossil fuel-dominated sector, according to a recent Midwest jobs report.

The report, from Clean Energy Trust and Environmental Entrepreneurs, shows 76,383 workers currently work in clean energy industries in the state, while Wisconsin’s fossil fuel industries employ 9,185 people.

Clean energy jobs grew 2.4 percent last year, the report shows, as the state added 1,786 jobs in the sector. Overall, these jobs make up 2.5 percent of all jobs in the state, and employers expect an 8.4 percent increase to clean energy jobs this year alone.

As it stands, the state’s clean energy sector employs more people than all the computer programmers, web developers, lawyers, waiters and waitresses combined. The report cites employment statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor for this analysis.

“Clean energy is a job creator today in Wisconsin, and as the costs for key clean energy products like solar, wind, energy efficiency and clean vehicles continue to fall, we have a big opportunity to employ even more Wisconsinites in this growing industry,” said Tyler Huebner, executive director of Renew Wisconsin.

The top three categories for clean energy jobs are:  energy efficiency, with 63,141 workers; renewable energy generation, with 5,963; and advanced transportation, with 4,783.

The top three counties are: Milwaukee, with 10,766 clean energy jobs; Dane, with 9,904 jobs; and Waukesha, with 8,991. Between the Madison and Milwaukee metro areas, 28,800 clean energy workers are employed, while 19,582 clean energy jobs were found in the state’s rural areas.

Just over half of clean energy jobs in the state are in construction, while a quarter are in manufacturing. The companies that employ these workers tend to be smaller and are more likely to hire veterans.

The report shows more than 68 percent of clean energy businesses in Wisconsin have fewer than 20 employees. And they employ military veterans at a rate of 12.2 percent, compared to the national average of 6 percent.

According to Erik Birkberts, CEO of Clean Energy Trust, the report shows the Midwest is creating jobs in this sector more quickly than the rest of the country — “a sign the Midwest is a good place for clean energy businesses to grow.”

Micaela Preskill, Midwest states advocate for Environmental Entrepreneurs, says the greater region has seen major clean energy jobs growth each year since E2 and CET began tracking the data, adding about 170,000 jobs since 2015.

“This report clearly proves that clean energy in the Midwest is not just a trend, it is driving economic growth and opportunities across the region,” Preskill said.

Looking at the entire 12-state Midwest region, study authors found that clean energy sectors reached 737,030 jobs at the end of 2018. The most are in: Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio, which each employ more than 100,000 clean energy workers.

See more state-level data in the full report: