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After Challenging Year, Clean Energy Jobs on the Upswing  in Minnesota

Minnesota 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

55,329
Clean Energy Jobs
-6,477
Clean energy jobs declined for the first time in years, but the industry bounced back strongly in the second half of the year
+2%
Growth of jobs in alternative transportation, the state’s fastest-growing sector 

Clean energy companies employed 55,329 Minnesotans at the end of 2020, a 10.5 percent drop from 2019.  This marks the first year-to-year decline since Clean Jobs Midwest began tracking Minnesota clean energy jobs in 2017. But Minnesota’s clean energy sector grew by 10 percent in the second half of the year, nearly two times the growth rate for jobs in the overall economy. Despite the industry’s overall decline, more than twice as many Minnesotans worked in clean energy as compared to the number of lawyers, accountants and auditors, web developers, and real estate agents combined. 

Clean Energy Jobs in Minnesota

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 can create major new opportunities for job seekers throughout the region and strengthen the economy overall— A clean energy transition is poised 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

Minnesota’s largest clean energy employment sector is energy efficiency, accounting for nearly 75 percent of the state’s clean energy jobs. One sector to watch is in advanced transportation, as more automakers and their suppliers continue to shift to electric vehicles.  The advanced transportation sector saw a jobs increase of 2 percent for a total of 3,252 workers.    

Among advanced transportation sub-sectors, hybrid cars and electric vehicles were the state’s bright spots. Hybrid vehicle manufacturing employees grew by 4.9 percent to 1,544 workers. Electric-vehicle (EV) sector jobs grew by an even healthier 7.4 percent to 787 workers, and are poised for future growth with supportive policies and significant commitments to EVs by major vehicle manufacturers such as Ford and GM and their suppliers. Wind energy jobs, another highlight in Minnesota, grew by 8 percent to 2,536 workers. 

Policies Matter

As lawmakers at all levels 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. In Minnesota, state commitments to clean energy mean investment certainty for the businesses providing jobs and delivering clean energy benefits across the state.  

To keep clean energy jobs growing – and ensure that they’re available to all Americans – Congress must:    

  • Infrastructure— Pass and fund legislation to expand building efficiency improvement, modernize our electric grid, and create a national car-charging network.  
  • Tax Policy—Extend, expand, and improve accessibility of federal tax incentives for energy efficiency, wind, solar, bioenergy, energy storage, and zero-emission vehicles.  
  • Innovation—Make federal investments in energy efficiency, clean energy, vehicle and battery storage, 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 equity.  

Minnesota can also expand clean energy jobs by enacting state policies that support energy efficiency, renewable energy, and electric vehicles. These policies can help create thousands of new jobs as the post-pandemic recovery kicks into gear. Further, Minnesota can also remove arbitrary red tape in Minnesota’s nation-leading community solar program, strengthen building performance standards, fully fund the state’s Bioincentive Program, and transition the state’s electricity sector to 100% clean energy by 2040.

Subsector Details

Value Chain

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

Job Highlights

71%
Small businesses drive the state’s clean energy sector – in 2020, 71 percent of Minnesota’s clean energy businesses employed fewer than 20 people
11%
More than 11% of Minnesota’s clean energy workers were veterans in 2020

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 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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