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Clean Energy is Key for Economic Recovery in Michigan

As Michigan and the rest of America look toward economic recovery, the clean energy industry will play a key role because of its size, reach, and potential for growth. 

2019 Quick Facts

+5%
Energy storage grew 5 percent -- by 122 jobs
1,000s
Across Michigan, there were thousands more jobs in renewable energy generation than fossil fuel generation
57%
Most Michigan clean energy jobs (57 percent) were manufacturing

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, Michigan was home to more than 125,300 clean energy jobs and was a leader in the region. At the end of 2019, more people in Michigan worked in clean energy than the combined workforce of real estate agents and brokers, computer programmers, web developers, and waiters and waitresses. However, according to a recent analysis of U.S. Department of Labor unemployment data, in just the first three months after the pandemic began more than 31,100 workers in clean energy-related companies lost their jobs.

Clean Energy Jobs in Michigan

We’ve seen how government investment in clean energy can help create jobs and restart the economy. After the financial crisis, federal stimulus funding in 2009 contributed to the creation of hundreds of thousands of new clean energy jobs nationwide. It provided loans to help start about 500 new clean energy companies; weatherize thousands of homes and other buildings, and helped triple the amount of energy America gets from solar and wind.

As federal and state lawmakers once again look toward economic recovery, Clean Jobs Midwest illustrates the size, reach, and importance of the clean energy industry at a pivotal moment for our nation’s economy.

 

Jobs by Sector

Michigan’s largest clean energy employer was energy efficiency; the sector was home to more than 68 percent of the state’s clean energy jobs.

In 2019, energy efficiency in Michigan experienced slight job growth (.3 percent). The state also had growth in clean fuels (6.7 percent) and grid and storage (5.2 percent). Michigan was home to the region’s largest advanced transportation sector. 

Clean energy jobs are located throughout the state. While some of the largest hubs were urban areas like Detroit (55,470) and Grand Rapids (10,560), about one in five jobs — or 24,950 — were at the end of 2019 located in rural areas.

Hundreds of different companies in Michigan employed clean energy workers. Before the crisis hit, these employers projected adding jobs at a 4 percent growth rate in 2020.

Policies Matter

As lawmakers look to reinvigorate our economy and get America back to work, they must consider how they can support clean energy workers and provide stimulus funding that can drive job creation and economic growth for years to come.

At the federal level, lawmakers should:

  • Boost renewables: Secure projects and jobs that rely on incentive-based funding by extending federal clean energy incentive deadlines to account for COVID-19-related delays. Also, extend, expand, and reform clean energy incentives like the Production Tax Credit and expired energy efficiency tax credits for commercial and residential buildings and include direct pay options for each.
  • Rev up advanced transportation: Invest in the infrastructure we need to expand the nation’s electric vehicle charging network and clean fuel infrastructure; support robust fuel efficiency standards.
  • Keep energy efficiency on track: Fund energy efficiency programs to immediately restore demand for the services of the electricians, construction workers, installers, and factory workers whose jobs have been impacted by COVID. 
  • Invest in energy storage and other cutting-edge technologies: Increase funding for U.S. Department of Energy programs like the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) and the federal loan guarantee program. This will spur the kinds of world-leading innovations we need to create new opportunities now while also driving growth for decades to come.

Michigan can also do its part to help save and create jobs by adopting state policies that support renewables, energy efficiency, and electric vehicles. Michigan has shown how strong energy efficiency policies help consumers save money on their energy bills while also creating thousands of new job opportunities in sectors like construction. Breaking down market barriers for distributed clean energy, enabling community solar, and helping customers adopt clean energy solutions could also help create additional jobs.

Finally, as clean electric vehicles rapidly gain market share nationwide and become the future of job creation within the Midwest’s automotive industry, Michigan must remove barriers to EV adoption within its own borders and build out the infrastructure (including EV charging stations) that encourages further investment and wider adoption of EVs.

Subsector Details

Value Chain

Each category below captures jobs from multiple clean energy sectors and industries. In 2019, the majority of clean energy jobs in Michigan were in manufacturing.

Job Highlights

78%
Small businesses drive the state’s clean energy sector -- in 2019, 78 percent of Michigan’s clean energy businesses employed fewer than 20 individuals
10%
More than 10 percent of Michigan’s clean energy workers were veterans in 2019 -- nearly twice the representation of veterans in the state’s overall workforce

Find out how many clean energy jobs are in your country or district.

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Unless otherwise stated, the data and analyses presented in this report by Clean Energy Trust and Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) are based on data collected for the 2020 U.S. Energy Employment Report (2020 USEER), produced by the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) in partnership with the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and collected and analyzed by BW Research Partnership (BWRP). For more information on the survey methodology please visit cleanjobsmidwest.com/about

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