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After Rough Year, Clean Energy Jobs on the Upswing  in Michigan    

Michigan clean energy jobs declined in 2020’s pandemic-wracked economy, but the second half of the year showed significant recovery amid strong promise for the future.

Quick Facts

113,456
Clean Energy Jobs
-11,909
Clean energy jobs declined for the first time in years, but the industry bounced back strongly in the second half of the year
+1%  
Growth of jobs in alternative transportation, the state’s fastest-growing sector

Clean energy companies employed 113,456 Michiganders at the end of 2020, a 9.5 percent drop from 2019 and the first year-to-year decline since Clean Jobs Midwest began tracking Michigan clean energy jobs in 2017. But Michigan’s clean energy sector grew by 20.4 percent in the second half of the year, exceeding the state’s overall economy’s job growth rate in that period. Despite the industry’s overall decline, more than twice as many Michiganders worked in clean energy than the number of lawyers, accountants and auditors, web developers, and real estate agents combined.    

Clean Energy Jobs in Michigan

While clean energy suffered like many sectors of the economy in 2020, the prospects for growth are greater than ever given the opportunity for bold climate action at the federal level, along with state leadership.   

The shift to a cleaner economy is creating major new opportunities for job seekers throughout the region—including in communities impacted by the ongoing decline of other parts of the energy sector such as coal, oil, and gas. It also promises to create consumer and business savings through energy efficiency and lower-cost renewable energy, which is especially impactful for low- and moderate-income communities, rural communities and communities of color, especially as the economy continues to recover.    

Jobs by Sector

The biggest part of Michigan’s clean energy sector is energy efficiency, accounting for more than 65 percent of the region’s clean energy jobs. But as more automakers and their suppliers continue to shift to electric vehicles, the advanced transportation sector saw a job increase of 1 percent for a total of 24,268 workers.    

Among advanced transportation subsectors, hybrid and electric vehicles were the state’s bright spots. The number of hybrid vehicle manufacturing employees grew by 3.4 percent to 11,524 workers. Electric-vehicle (EV) sector jobs grew by an even healthier 6.3 percent to 5,948 workers, and are poised for future growth with supportive policies and significant commitments to EVs by major vehicle manufacturers like Ford and General Motors. Wind energy jobs, another highlight in Michigan, grew by 3 percent to 4,967 workers. 

Clean energy jobs are found in every corner of Michigan. While big cities like Detroit (50,229) and Grand Rapids (9,546) are some of the largest hubs for clean energy jobs, almost 20 percent — or more than 22,500 — jobs are located in rural areas. 

Policies Matter

As lawmakers look to rebuild a better, cleaner, more equitable economy, the clean energy sector is a proven and solid foundation on which to build in the Midwest. To keep clean energy jobs growing – and ensure that they’re available to all Americans – Congress must:    

  • Infrastructure— Pass and fund legislation to create a national car-charging network, expand building efficiency improvements, and modernize our electric grid.   
  • Tax Policy—Extend, expand, and improve accessibility of federal tax incentives for energy efficiency, wind, solar, energy storage, and zero-emission vehicles.   
  • Innovation—Make federal Investments in clean energy, vehicle and battery storage, energy efficiency, and regenerative and low-carbon agriculture.   
  • Workforce Training—Better fund existing programs and pass new programs to create new employment opportunities, improve equity, and meet the workforce requirements of a better, cleaner economy.    
  • Clean Energy Finance—Facilitate and leverage privately financed clean energy projects and improve racial and socioeconomic equity.   

Michigan can also expand clean energy jobs by enacting state policies that support clean energy, energy efficiency and electric vehicles. These policies can help create thousands of new jobs as the post-pandemic recovery kicks into gear.  Michigan lawmakers should also include equity, wage, and benefit considerations as they advance clean energy projects and policies. 

Governor Whitmer’s Executive Action on Climate, announced in 2020, included high-level, sweeping goals for decarbonization by 2050. To implement these goals, Michigan must invest heavily in its clean energy future and create an environment for significant clean energy job growth. As a promising first step, Governor Whitmer announced on Earth Day 2021 that all state-owned facilities managed by the Michigan Department of Technology, Management, and Budget would be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2025 by partnering with three Michigan utility companies; DTE, Consumers Energy, and the Lansing Board of Water and Light. Building from this progress, the state should remove the 1% limit on rooftop solar to allow small solar businesses to thrive and hire more workers.  

Subsector Details

Value Chain

Each category below captures jobs from multiple clean energy sectors and industries. The majority of clean energy jobs in Michigan are in manufacturing and construction.  

Job Highlights

78%
Small businesses drive the state’s clean energy sector – in 2020, 78 percent of Michigan’s clean energy businesses employed fewer than 20 individuals 
10%
More than 10% of Michigan’s clean energy workers were veterans in 2020 

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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 2021 U.S. Energy Employment Report (2021 USEER), produced by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and collected and analyzed by BW Research Partnership (BWRP) in partnership with the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO). For more information on the survey methodology, please visit cleanjobsmidwest.com/about.

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