Energy efficient jobs employed 2.3 million Americans in 2018 who manufactured, designed or installed energy-efficient products, including glass manufacturers and glaziers, and the provision of services that reduce end-use energy consumption, according to the recently released U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER).

The report, which was produced by the Energy Futures Initiative in partnership with the National Association of State Energy Officials, examined employment trends in five sectors: energy efficiency; electric power generation, fuels production; transmission, distribution and storage; and motor vehicles and component parts. The energy efficiency sector is largely defined by standards arising from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program.

In 2018, the energy efficiency sector saw an increase in employment of 3.4% over the previous year, with approximately 76,000 new jobs added in 2018. According to the report, this growth is driven by demand for efficient technology and building upgrades.

Construction employment under the energy efficiency sector grew to nearly 1.3 million jobs in 2018, an increase of nearly 21,000. Manufacturing, professional and wholesale trade jobs also saw an increase. Employment also increased for advanced building material/insulation and recycled building materials, which include glass. Advanced building materials construction and manufacturing saw a total increase of 278,622 jobs last year while recycled building materials construction and manufacturing saw a total increase of 58,765 jobs.

Energy efficiency employers predict job growth of 7.8% in the energy efficiency sector this year, while construction employers in particular expect job growth in the sector of 8.8% by the end of 2019. The majority (56%) of energy efficiency employees worked at construction firms last year, installing and servicing energy efficiency goods.

According to the report, it’s becoming more difficult for construction employers in energy efficiency to hire new employees, with 84% reporting that it was somewhat or very difficult to hire new employees last year. Seventy-two percent of energy efficiency manufacturing employers reported that it was either somewhat or very difficult to hire new employees last year.

The reasons for hiring difficulty within the construction industry include:

  • Lack of experience, training or technical skills (48%);
  • Competition/small applicant pool (24%); and
  • Insufficiency non-technical skills (24%).

The reasons for hiring difficulty within the manufacturing industry include:

  • Lack of experience, training or technical skills (55%);
  • Insufficient non-technical skills (39%); and
  • Difficulty finding industry-specific knowledge, skills and interest (18%).