The US Department of Energy has just released its  '2014 Wind Technologies Market Report' which is a great reference document for anyone in the industry. It also includes some fascinating employment data.

The report notes (Section 3 'Industry Trends' page 19) "With near-term growth in the U.S. market, wind sector employment increased from 50,500 in 2013 to 73,000 in 2014." In other words annual jobs growth of 45%. Not too shabby.

So how does that compare with employment in the coal industry?

Aug 7: The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports (Table B-1, page 28) that employment in coal mining declined from 75,200 in July 2014 to 68,400 in July of this year.

In other words and since wind energy is growing rapidly while coal use is declining, the US wind industry now employs more people than coal mining.

Additional detail on coal sector employment is available from Table 18 of the US Energy Information Administration's Annual Coal Report - the most recent addition of which only contains 2013 data. This shows that from 2012 to 2013 nationwide employment in coal fell 10.7 percent from 89,983 to 80,396 in 2013. (note: "employment Includes all employees engaged in production, preparation, processing, development, maintenance, repair shop, or yard work at mining operations, including office workers"). The 2014 coal report will not be available until December of this year.

This information is pretty amazing when one consider that wind turbines generated only 4.4 percent of 2014 US electricity vs. 39 percent for coal.   

On a related note: the solar industry, despite generating less than 1 percent of US electricity, already employs significantly more people (174,000) than coal (80,396).

In summary: the wind and solar industries now create 3 times MORE jobs than the coal industry despite generating 8 times LESS electricity. So the next time someone is concerned about job losses due to the 'war on coal'; tell them about the many more jobs coming out of the rapidly expanding wind and solar industries. 

AuthorJames Glennie