America’s solar jobs market is emerging from the gloom of President Donald Trump’s import tariffs. Declining costs, a rush to install solar before the phaseout of a federal investment tax credit and waning concerns about the impact of duties drove an expansion in industry jobs last year, according to a report by The Solar Foundation.
U.S. jobs in the industry increased 2.3% to almost 250,000 last year, marking the first annual increase since 2016 — the year before the threat of new tariffs emerged. The uptick won’t be a blip: the nonprofit organization projects a 7.8% surge in jobs in 2020.
“We’re back on the growth trajectory,” Andrea Luecke, The Solar Foundation’s president and executive director, said in an interview.
Even though renewable energy is beating fossil fuels on price in many markets, the growth of America’s solar industry still depends on policy. The threat of tariffs had initially prompted developers to cancel or ice projects, slowing installations. While the industry was plagued by uncertainty in 2017 and took the brunt of the hit from tariffs in 2018, that eased last year, according to Ed Gillila, senior director at the Solar Foundation.