After years of rapid expansion, U.S. solar employment hit a peak of 260,000 in 2016 before stalling amid tariffs imposed by the Trump administation. Those tariffs on crystalline silicon modules and cells were among the factors that caused a contraction in jobs for two consecutive years with the number of people employed in the sector falling to 244,340 by 2018. The Solar Foundation has released its latest National Solar Job Census which has good news for the industry after that period of uncertainty. Employment in solar has grown once again, climbing 2.3 percent to 249,983.
31 states experienced gains in solar employment in 2019 with Florida leading the charge. Proving that it really is America's sunshine state, Florida experienced an expansion in installations for residential and utility solar along with an increase in the availability of solar leasing which allowed installers to offer customers more attractive financing options. That saw its solar sector add 1,843 jobs, the highest absolute number in any U.S. state. The Southeast of the country was a bright spot in general in this year's census and its strong job growth was driven by utility-scale expansion and new manufacturing jobs.
Accounting for 40 percent of cumulative U.S. solar capacity with 74,255 jobs, California is still America's largest solar job market. The census found that its workforce contracted by 3.4 percent, though that was a much slower decline than the 13.6 and 11.1 percent decreases it experienced in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Despite the Trump administration's support for fossil fuels, solar is starting to enjoy a resurgence thanks to the plummeting cost of the technology and its increased popularity among individuals, businesses and electical utilities. The solar industry accounts for 2.6 percent of total U.S. electricity generation according to federal figures.