Clean energy companies employed more than 677,000 Midwesterners at the end of 2020, a 9 percent decline 2019 and the first year-to-year decline since Clean Jobs Midwest began tracking Midwest clean energy jobs in 2017. But the region’s clean energy sector grew by about 11 percent in the second half of the year. Clean energy jobs in 9 of the 12 Midwest states exceeded their overall economies’ job growth rate in that period, with 6 states exceeding 10 percent. Despite the industry’s overall decline, more Midwesterners worked in clean energy than worked as accountants, auditors, computer programmers, web developers, and real estate agents and brokers combined.
While clean energy suffered like many sectors of the economy in 2020, the prospects for growth are greater than ever given the climate policy proposals from the Biden administration, along with leadership in the Midwest states.
The shift to a cleaner economy would create 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.
The biggest sector of the Midwest’s clean energy industry is energy efficiency, accounting for nearly 70 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 3 percent across the region, with growth in most states. The sector added nearly 3,000 new jobs for a total of more than 90,000 workers.
Among clean energy subsectors, wind power, hybrid cars, and electric vehicles were the region’s brightest spots. Wind energy jobs in the region grew by more than 4 percent to 37,800 workers and the number of hybrid vehicle manufacturing employees grew by 6 percent to 43,000 workers. Electric vehicle (EV) jobs grew by an even healthier 8.5 percent, and are poised for future growth with supportive policies and significant commitments to EVs by major regional employers such as Ford and GM.
Clean energy jobs are found in every corner of the region. While big cities like Chicago (81,707), Detroit (50,229), and Minneapolis (34,958) were some of the largest hubs for clean energy jobs, more than one in five — or more than 143,800 — jobs are in rural areas.
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 Illinois. To keep clean energy jobs growing – and ensure that they’re available to all Americans – Congress must:
States and municipalities across the Midwest can also expand clean energy jobs by enacting state policies that support renewable energy, energy efficiency and electric vehicles. These policies can help create thousands of new jobs as the post-pandemic recovery kicks into gear. State lawmakers should also include equity, wage, and benefit considerations when they consider clean energy projects and policies.
Each category below captures jobs from multiple clean energy sectors and industries. In 2020, the majority of clean energy jobs in the Midwest were in manufacturing and construction.
Find out how many clean energy jobs are in your county or district.More Jobs Data
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/