Top 5 Takeaways from the 2020 Clean Jobs Midwest Report

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With new reports every day about COVID-19 job losses and their impact on the world and the clean energy industry, it can be hard to keep track! We are breaking down the top things to keep in mind about clean energy jobs in Minnesota from 2019 data. We are also sharing how those numbers have changed since the start of the pandemic, and how the past strength of the industry can be a key to Minnesota’s economic recovery. 

COVID-19’s Impact on Clean Energy Jobs in Minnesotaminnesota clean energy job loss covid19

1. COVID-19 has hit the clean energy industry with 18% job loss

We would be remiss to talk about the strong growth in the industry in 2019 and not mention the current events that have dramatically affected these numbers and the individuals they represent. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota has lost 18 percent (or more than 11,500 jobs) of its clean energy workforce. The energy efficiency sector has taken the biggest hit, losing 8,596 jobs. Even industries that were able to classify their workers as essential, struggled with new safety protocols and how to safely and effectively maintain their workflow. 

2. The clean energy industry is key to Minnesota’s economic recovery!

Over the past five years, we have seen the industry show consistent and strong job growth. This trend indicates that clean energy will be a key part of Minnesota’s economic recovery due to:

  • Its size (61,805 workers in 2019)
  • Its reach (1 in 3 clean energy jobs are located in greater Minnesota) and
  • Its growth potential (clean energy jobs are growing 2.5 times faster than Minnesota’s overall job growth).

“Clean energy jobs are critical to the success of Minnesota’s economy,” said Minnesota DEED Commissioner Steve Grove in the 2020 Clean Jobs Midwest Press Release. “And as we prioritize reopening and rebuilding our state’s economy for the future, these jobs must be a part of the solution to ensure a resilient workforce, especially in Greater Minnesota.”

Clean Energy Job Growth in Minnesota

3. Clean energy is a huge MN employer - with 61,805 workers in 2019!61,805 workers employed in minnesota clean energy industry in 2019

Once again, clean energy enjoyed strong job growth throughout 2019. Clean energy has been one of Minnesota’s biggest and fastest-growing employment sectors, growing 6 percent since 2017. In the last year the industry added 1,147 jobs totaling 61,805 clean energy jobs in Minnesota pre-COVID-19. 

Even as businesses battle the cascading economic effects caused by COVID, they are finding new ways to serve and retain their workforce. 

“As a Minnesota start-up we have always thrived on innovation. We are channeling that creativity to create solutions that allow commercial buildings to be reopened safely while saving energy. In addition to implementing an epidemic mode that implements Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines we are collaborating with premier partners like the National Renewable Energy Laboratories to assess the energy impact of these measures. These are crucial initiatives to reopen the economy and get Americans back to work safely. I’m proud of our contributions to Minnesota’s clean energy ecosystem,” said Deepinder Singh, CEO of 75F, a smart building energy efficiency controls company out of Bloomington in the 2020 Clean Jobs Midwest Press Release.

4. 2019 Clean energy job growth was 2.5x faster than MN’s overall job growth

The Minnesota clean energy economy is strong both in comparison to other jobs in the state and compared to clean energy jobs in our neighboring states. Overall, clean energy jobs grew 2.5 times faster than Minnesota’s overall job growth! For context, Minnesota also had the third-largest number of jobs gained in the Midwest region. 

“Now more than ever, Minnesotans are seeking a brighter future of economic resilience that is built on a strong foundation of living wage careers to support our families,” said Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley in the 2020 Clean Jobs Midwest Press Release. “Minnesota workers deserve career options in renewable energy that are locally grown, have a direct and positive impact on our communities and will provide for a sound, equitable and resilient economy that all Minnesotans can be proud of.”

Sectors of clean energy that are growing

5. Sub-sector rockstars include wind, advanced grid and energy storage and energy efficiencyminnesota six percent wind job growth

  • Advanced materials and traditional HVAC led growth for the energy efficiency subsector with 6 percent and 4.3 percent growth respectively. 
  • The wind subsector added 129 more jobs, nearly 6 percent growth in 2019 as several new wind projects were completed and previously built projects were repowered. 
  • The smart grid and energy storage sector experienced 5 percent growth in 2019. As costs decline for energy storage, and Minnesota’s utilities explore ways to modernize and strengthen the reliability of the electrical grid, there are more opportunities for cost-effectively using these technologies. 
  • Renewable generation (solar, wind, geothermal and water sources) grew 2.3 percent in 2019. 
  • Energy efficiency grew 2 percent and lighting grew 1.7 percent. Energy efficiency continues to be a huge sector of Minnesota’s clean energy jobs, with 3 in 4 clean energy workers employed in this sector. 

"We have seen industry leaders take action to ensure that clean energy investments create high-quality jobs for Minnesota workers, and those efforts are paying off,” said Kevin Pranis, Marketing Manager with LIUNA Minnesota and North Dakota in the 2020 Clean Jobs Midwest Press Release. “Wind farm construction projects put hundreds of local tradesmen and tradeswomen to work, boosting local economies in Greater Minnesota. We need new public and utility investments in clean energy now more than ever to stimulate our sputtering economy."

Looking for more fast facts about the report?

We will be sharing information and data from the report on all of our social media channels, including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. You can read the press release for the 2020 Clean Jobs Midwest report, and visit our Clean Jobs Numbers page for our full summary of the report.