Employment growth continues across the traditional and alternative energy sectors, posing new opportunities and challenges industry-wide.
Things are looking sunny for the energy sector: according to the latest U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER), employment opportunities abound in both the traditional energy and energy efficiency sectors. In 2018, an astounding 6.7 million of the 147 million-plus U.S. workers held jobs in fuels; electric power generation; transmission, distribution, and storage; energy efficiency; and motor vehicles.
Employment in these sectors increased by 2.3 percent between 2017 and 2018, accounting for 7 percent of all new jobs in the United States. The fuels and energy efficiency sectors saw especially notable growth, adding 52,000 and 76,000 jobs in the last year, respectively. With even more projected growth on the horizon, it’s clear that opportunities abound for employers and employees alike.
Growth Continues in the Old Guard
The traditional energy sources sector — including petroleum, natural gas, and coal — employed 1,127,600 workers in 2018, up 4.8 percent from the year before. Much of that growth can be attributed to petroleum, which added 33,500 new positions last year, although natural gas extraction was close behind, adding 17,000 jobs.
Coal, meanwhile, saw a 0.9 percent increase in jobs across the industry. Mining and extraction positions make up the majority of this growth, and according to recent reports, they’re far easier roles to fill in coal than in petroleum or natural gas.
Why the sudden rise in labor demand? The short answer: new efficiencies and increased fuel prices. The sudden oil boom from the Permian Basin, an oil field spanning West Texas and New Mexico, offers just one example of the growth spurred by new, innovative extraction methods. In the wake of this success, other oil fields are likely to follow suit.
Energy Efficiency: Steady Growth in an Innovative Sector
Handily beating out the traditional fuels sector in terms of pure numbers, the energy efficiency sector employed 2.35 million Americans in 2018. The sector’s 3.4 percent employment growth can be attributed to dropping technology costs and increased consumer demand for clean energy. Add in the promise of a well-paying job (entry-level solar installers, for example, make an average of $19.53/hr — well above the federal minimum wage), and it’s easy to understand why many Americans are finding rewarding careers in green energy.
Workers interested in efficient energy are likely to find the most opportunity in construction, as these roles account for approximately half of all energy efficiency jobs. That said, professional services jobs and wholesale trade jobs are the fastest-growing; the sector added 35,000 professional services jobs and 13,000 wholesale trade jobs in 2018, for an increase of 7.7 percent each.
Outside of construction, professional services, and wholesale trade, careers in energy storage and advanced grid systems have seen a major increase. Energy storage jobs grew by 295% between 2015 and 2016 alone, offering myriad opportunities for those looking to join this booming industry.
A Rapidly Transforming Industry
The energy sector has seen commendable growth, but the ability to match that growth with a capable workforce has presented a substantial challenge.
Despite the common obstacles associated with recruitment and staffing, energy employers as a whole project employment growth of 4.6% in 2019. That means more employees — and more construction projects — than ever before. Adapting to this growth will require new practices — not just in recruitment, but on the ground.
That’s why Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc. helps oil and gas businesses around the world reduce the environmental impact of their work through innovative dust control products and application programs.
Midwest can help industry leaders manage their dust emissions with cutting-edge products like EK35® and EnviroKleen®. These non-toxic, non-corrosive, and environmentally friendly products seal fugitive particles within the road aggregate while strengthening the existing surface.
What’s more, you can rely on Midwest to handle the application ourselves — we have over 40 years experience working with oil and gas companies to deliver stronger, more effective roads. The result is less maintenance, fewer man-hours spent on ineffective practices like watering, and a lower environmental impact.
The future is bright for companies within the energy sector. It’s time to step up with solutions that protect and preserve this progress.