Survey Methodology


The Clean Jobs Midwest report is derived from the United States Energy and Employment Report (USEER). Clean Jobs Midwest reports employment and growth in clean energy technologies for the 12 Midwest states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

This report data was supplemented with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) (2022 Q3) and the BLS Unemployment Situation Table B-1 monthly reports to make comparisons with the overall workforce. The USEER methodology is discussed in detail below. 

If you have other questions about the Clean Jobs Midwest report, please explore our Frequently Asked Questions.

Discussion of USEER Methodology


The 2023 USEER methodology relies on the most recently available data from the BLS QCEW (QCEW, third quarter 2022) and the BLS Unemployment Situation Table B-1 monthly reports, together with a detailed supplemental survey of business establishments across the United States produced by the Department of Energy (DOE), and collected and analyzed by BW Research Partnership (BWRP). During a time of rapid change in energy technology and business employment structure, supplemental surveys are an important tool to capture developing trends. Taken together, the BLS and survey data provide the most comprehensive calculation of energy-related employment available. The methodology has been used for local, state, and federal energy related data collection and analysis for nearly a decade, including the Solar Foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census series, traditional and clean energy reports for state agencies in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, New York State, the State of Vermont, the State of California, the State of Connecticut, the State of Maryland, the State of Maine, the State of New Hampshire, the State of Minnesota, and State of Rhode Island, and numerous nonprofit agencies across the United States.

The 2023 USEER survey uses a stratified sampling plan that is representative by industry code (NAICS or ANAICS)[1], establishment size, and geography to determine the proportion of establishments that work with specific energy-related technologies, as well as the proportion of workers in such establishments that work with the same. These data are then analyzed and applied to existing public data published by the BLS, effectively constraining the potential universe of energy establishments and employment.

The 2023 USEER survey was administered by telephone (more than 274,000 outbound calls) and by web, with more than 327,700 emails sent to participants throughout the United States. The phone survey was conducted by ReconMR. The web instrument was programmed internally, and each respondent was required to use a unique ID in order to prevent duplication.

The sample was split into two categories, referred to as the known and unknown universes. The known universe includes establishments that have previously been identified as energy-related, either in prior research or in some other manner, such as membership in an industry association or participation in government programs. These establishments were surveyed census-style, and their associated establishment and employment totals were removed from the unknown universe for both sampling and for resulting employment calculations and estimates.

The unknown universe included tens of thousands of businesses in potentially energy-related NAICS codes, across agriculture, mining and extraction, utilities, construction, manufacturing, wholesale trade, distribution (including pipeline distribution), professional services, and repair and maintenance. Each of these segments and their total reported establishments (within the BLS QCEW) were carefully analyzed by size (employment) and state to develop representative clusters for sampling. In total, approximately 34,200 business establishments participated in the survey effort, with approximately 7,200 providing full responses to the survey. These responses were used to develop incidence rates among industries (by state) as well as to apportion employment across various industry categories in ways currently not provided by state and federal labor market information agencies. The margin of error for incidence in the index is +/-0.53 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval. The margin of error for all energy firms that answered questions related to energy employment in the survey is ±1.15% at a 95% confidence interval. The margin of error increases for each subgroup of respondents that participated in the survey. For example, the margin of error for questions answered by all firms that identified as solar photovoltaic (PV) is ±3.49% at a 95% confidence interval.

For several industries, particularly transportation of goods, the USEER uses the methodology developed by the DOE and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory for the first installment of the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER). Proportion of employment was calculated by dividing commodity shipments by value (in millions of dollars) for coal, fuel oil, gas, motor vehicles, petroleum, and other coal and petroleum products out of total commodity value at the state level by truck, rail, air, and water transport. This proportion was applied to NAICS employment for truck transportation (NAICS 484), water transportation (NAICS 483), air transportation (NAICS 481), and Railroad Retirement Board employment for rail transportation at the state level. With this analysis, truck transportation represents the majority of energy-related transportation employment (69%), followed by rail (22%), water (8%), and air (1%).

Of important note, the USEER expressly excludes any employment in retail trade NAICS codes. This excludes motor vehicle dealerships, appliance and hardware stores, and other retail establishments. Where relevant, separate reference is made to retail employment (gasoline stations and other liquid fuels dealers).

All data in the USEER rely on the BLS QCEW data for the end of the third quarter of 2022 and the BLS Unemployment Situation Table B-1 monthly reports through December 2022. The USEER survey was administered between January 31, 2023 and March 30, 2023 and averaged 17 minutes in length.


Employment data collected by the BLS provide information on many, but not all, energy-related job categories. Most notably, BLS does not collect data on employment levels by energy technology across business segments. For instance, residential solar installation establishments are typically labeled as electrical contractors (together with all other traditional electrical businesses) without being identified specifically as solar companies. Petroleum-engineering firms are included in engineering services, with civil, mechanical, and other engineers, while electric vehicle prototype manufacturers are combined with gasoline and diesel-fueled vehicle manufacturing. As a result, BLS employment data does not capture the full scope of energy employment trends.[2]

Given the complex relationship between energy and the overall economy, the 2023 USEER investigates, with a special supplemental survey, the three Traditional Energy sectors—Electric Power Generation, Fuels and Transmission, Distribution, and Storage —followed by individual analyses of employment in two important energy end-use sectors—Energy Efficiency and Motor Vehicles. The spread of business activities within each of the four analyzed sectors presents additional taxonomic challenges, as early-stage research and development, repair and maintenance, or professional and technical services vary across energy, energy efficiency, and manufacturing. Natural gas business activities, for instance, differ from business activities relating to advanced building materials and solar photovoltaic (PV) materials.

Historically, the BLS has conducted supplemental surveys to acquire more complete information on new industries, specific demographic profiles within the workforce, or new labor force trends such as the role of contingent workers. In this way, significant modification to the current BLS structure of industry and occupational classifications is avoided by capturing the required energy employment data using a supplemental survey tool based on existing BLS data and classifications.

The 2023 USEER relies on such a comprehensive survey of 34,200 business representatives across the United States, conducted by BW Research Partnership on behalf of DOE. The survey data are used to filter and analyze the concentration, intensity, and distribution of various energy technologies and activities throughout traditional industry sectors, using third-quarter 2022 employment data from the BLS QCEW and the BLS Unemployment Situation Table B-1 monthly reports. USEER data also provides an additional layer of information to track sector-specific growth potential, obstacles, and opportunities. The data presented in the USEER are not intended to remove, replace, or replicate existing data from the BLS QCEW, but instead to reorganize categories and provide insight for policymakers and the public regarding trends in energy employment, energy production, and energy consumption across the United States.

The USEER provides data for direct employment only and does not attempt to estimate indirect employment or induced employment related to the analyzed sectors. Many employment studies, such as those included in chapter 8 of the first installment of the QER, generate employment estimates that rely on input/output modeling. These studies typically define an activity based on reported expenditures or expenditures and associated levels of employment reported by a defined industry or activity, such as U.S. solar PV installation. In this example, solar PV installation firm employment would be the “direct” jobs. Most studies go at least one step further, identifying “indirect” employment, which includes the supply chain or other support services to the industry. In the solar example, these would include U.S. manufacturing jobs related to producing PV equipment used in domestic installations (and their suppliers and vendors) as well as consulting, tax, legal, and other professional services to support domestic PV installation companies. Another typical calculation is “induced” jobs, which includes jobs created or supported by wages paid and other benefits provided by employers of direct and indirect employees.

In the USEER, by comparison, the direct job category of interest is defined as the solar industry generally, including utility-scale solar, residential, and commercial installations, as well as the manufacturing, professional services, and wholesale trade that make up the sector. However, the indirect jobs that support this industry are not included, such as polysilicon production (the raw material used in solar panels), aluminum production and extrusion activities for frame manufacturing, or other aspects of the solar energy value chain. Induced jobs—those created throughout the economy as a result of the spending of wages by the employees whose income derives, in whole or part, from this industry—are also not included.

For this survey, a Qualifying Firm is—

An organization with employees in the United States that is directly involved with researching, developing, producing, manufacturing, distributing, selling, implementing, installing, or repairing components, goods or services related to Electric Power Generation; Electric Power Transmission, Distribution, and Storage; Energy Efficiency, including Heating, Cooling and Building Envelope; Fuels, including Extraction, Processing, Production, and Distribution; and Transportation, including Motor Vehicles. This also includes supporting services such as consulting, finance, tax, and legal services related to energy, fuels, energy efficiency, or motor vehicles.

Qualifying Workers are—

Employees of a qualifying firm that spend some portion of their time supporting the qualifying energy, energy-efficiency, or motor vehicle portion of the business.[3]

This report provides detail into levels of employment activity that include both “a portion of their time” and “a majority of their time” when referencing qualifying workers. This is especially true within the Energy Efficiency sector where the employing construction or repair firms frequently are engaged in both traditional energy-related construction or installation as well as in high-efficiency activities that qualify for ENERGY STAR designation.

Primary energy consumption [4] in the United States is divided among four sectors: Electric Power Sector (37.6%), Residential and Commercial Buildings (12%), Industrial (23.1%), and Transportation (27.4%). This distribution of energy consumption by sector is based on total 2022 estimates published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).[5]

End-use electricity consumption, in turn, is divided with 74.1% consumed by Residential and Commercial Buildings, 25.8% by Industrial; and 0.1% by Transportation.[6] Thus, Residential and Commercial Buildings consumed 39.8% of all energy (an amount consisting of their direct energy end-use, their electricity end-use, and the electrical system energy losses allocated to the sector by EIA).[7]

As with the 2022 report, the 2023 USEER identifies jobs that manufacture ENERGY STAR appliances and other ENERGY STAR labeled products, as well as employment in building design and contracting services that provide insulation, improve natural lighting, and reduce overall energy consumption across homes and businesses.[8] As with the 2022 report, the 2023 USEER includes a section that disaggregates ENERGY STAR technologies more thoroughly, further highlighting the employment impacts of the program.

Motor Vehicles are included in this report primarily due to their intensive use of energy and contribution to carbon emissions.[9] This report delineates employment between traditional gas and diesel motor vehicles, hybrid and plug-in hybrid, all-electric, natural gas, hydrogen, and fuel cell technologies, as well as Motor Vehicle component parts for such vehicles. USEER also includes an estimate for Motor Vehicle component parts that contribute to increased fuel economy. It does not, however, cover all sectors of transportation, such as aviation and maritime transportation. According to the EIA, the transportation sector accounted for 27.4% of U.S. primary energy consumption. [10] in 2022, 67.4% of overall U.S. petroleum consumption was attributable to the transportation sector.[11]

BW Research Partnership, an independent research organization, collected and analyzed data at the direction of DOE. The data set includes technology, value-chain, and energy employment data to the county-level in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. In a time of rapid change in energy technologies across the board, continued refinement of supplemental surveys will continue to be an important tool in analyzing existing BLS data sets.

Another benefit of using the QCEW framework and supplemental survey is the ability to understand and report the concentration of energy-related activities within traditional industries, such as construction, manufacturing, and utilities. This helps to illustrate the significant impact that energy and energy-related activities have on the overall economy.

[1] ANAICS is a term used by BLS, most notably in the Green Goods and Services (GGS) survey, which means Allocation NAICS, and refers to the industries included in the aggregation of industries likely to participate in said activities.
[2] DOE, Quadrennial Energy Review: Energy Transmission, Storage, and Distribution Infrastructure, 8-7.
[3] Data presented in this report exclude retail employees. Qualifying Workers in energy will be referenced as energy-related jobs. Where “portion of their time” includes employees whose activities are less than 50 percent of their time, specific reference will be made of that fact.
[4] Primary energy consumption is the direct consumption of energy at its first point of use. Importantly, this does not include consumption of electricity, so that primary energy consumption in the Residential and Commercial Building sector includes direct use of fuels like natural gas for heating, but not electricity used for lighting and cooling.
[5] EIA, Monthly Energy Review, Table 2.1. Percentages are based on primary energy consumption in 2021and do not add up to 100.0 percent due to rounding.
[6] EIA, Monthly Energy Review, Table 7.6. Percentages of retail electricity sales in 2022.
[7] EIA, Monthly Energy Review, Table 2.1. Percentage based on total energy consumption in 2022.
[8] Estimates do not include retail employment.
[9] The USEER covers motor vehicle employment across vehicle parts manufacturing, automotive repair and maintenance, as well as vehicle, parts, and supplies wholesalers, including air, rail, water, and truck transportation of motor vehicle parts and supplies. It does not capture jobs associated with the final assembly of some transportation equipment such as forklifts and golf carts.
[10] EIA, Monthly Energy Review, Table 2.1.
[11] EIA, Monthly Energy Review, Table 3.7c. Percentage calculated using the sum of sector totals in Tables 3.7a through 3.7c.
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