We’ve all heard claims that fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas are major job creators. President Trump says so all the time.
But it turns out that developing and installing the technology to reduce fossil fuel use — known in the industry as “energy efficiency” — creates many more jobs than fossil fuels.
Energy efficiency jobs in the United States totaled 2.18 million in 2016, more than double the total of fossil fuel production and fossil-fuel based electricity generation combined.
They’re growing at a much faster rate, too. From 2015 to 2016, there was 53 percent employment growth in advanced and recycled building materials, and 59 percent employment growth in Energy Star appliances. Compare that to just 9 percent growth in fossil fuel-based electricity generation.
These energy efficiency jobs are much cheaper to create. According to an academic study, every $1 million invested in energy efficiency creates 12 jobs, compared to just 4 or 5 for fossil fuel jobs.
These are good, well-paying jobs. For example, electricians have a median hourly pay of $26, and the corresponding numbers for heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) workers and carpenters are $22.64 and $21.71, respectively. (Compare that to the median hourly pay for all US workers, $18.12.)
These jobs are more likely to be unionized, too. And they’re a great way to lift up people who’ve been left out of the fossil fuel economy.
So it’s no wonder that many states are working to grow their share of efficiency jobs, especially for traditionally excluded populations such as people of color and low-income people. I looked at a bunch of inspiring examples in a new report for the Institute for Policy Studies out this week.
For example, Illinois has passed legislation requiring larger utilities to create renewable energy and energy efficiency job training programs, especially for people from economically…