According to a report by the Solar Foundation that was released today, the solar industry now employs more people at over 200,000 than the oil and gas industry at around 185,000.
Increased interest in solar industry and fall in oil prices are responsible
In the spring of 2014, domestic oil production was near peak levels with oil selling at over $100 a barrel. Now, with oil prices hovering at just over $30 a barrel the booming shale oil extraction industry is seeing massive layoffs. At $30 a barrel it just makes little sense to go through the process of getting oil from shale.
The lion’s share of jobs go to installers of solar panels with engineering and sales jobs taking a back seat in a rather large car. According to the nonprofit Solar Foundation’s report installations of solar panels is on the rise owing to the lower costs to the average household as panels and batteries continue to go down in price.
The amount of jobs being created by the industry is a bit odd as manufacturing of solar equipment has actually declined a little in the months covered in the report. However, the report suggests that that is likely a blip and a result of Qbotix shuttering its factory in September when the Silicon Valley solar company went out of business.
Good for the environment not so much for the economy and household incomes
While it’s quite clear that solar energy is considerably better for the environment than the burning of fossil fuels, the average solar worker makes considerable less than and oil and gas worker. Installers, which again make a massive percentage of solar jobs, on average are paid $21 per hour with solar salespeople making $28.85 and designers being paid just shy of $29.00.
On the other hand, oil and gas workers make an average of $44 per hour though there is a big discrepancy in who earns what.Geoscientists and engineers make somewhere in the neighborhood of $65-75 an hours while refinery professionals make about $29 and those who labor on oil rigs are paid $17 an hour on average. It’s the engineers and scientists with their six-figure salaries that account for the overall average of $44 in the industry clearly.