U.S. clean energy sector must expand hiring beyond white men -report

by Reuters
Thursday, 9 September 2021 22:59 GMT

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More than 60% of workers that hold jobs in clean energy industries like electric vehicles, solar power, and energy efficiency are white, according to the analysis

By Nichola Groom

Sept 9 (Reuters) - U.S. clean energy jobs are overwhelmingly dominated by white men, and efforts to boost industries like renewable energy and electric vehicles should make sure that women and people of color are not overlooked, a report published on Thursday said.

More than 60% of workers that hold jobs in clean energy industries like electric vehicles, solar power, and energy efficiency are white, according to the analysis by consulting firm BW Research Partnership. The study was commissioned by environmental advocacy group E2, the Alliance to Save Energy, the American Association of Blacks in Energy, Black Owners of Solar Services (BOSS) and Energy Efficiency for All.

Representatives from those groups said the report showed clean energy policies being considered as part of infrastructure legislation in Congress must include measures to increase diversity.

"There's a lot of policy being discussed in Washington right now," Nicole Sitaraman, a board member at BOSS, said during a virtual press conference. "This is the time to really make sure that racial equity in the form of funding, investment for enterprises and organizations run by people of color are able to benefit from the policies that will hopefully be passed soon."

Black workers are particularly underrepresented in the sector, accounting for just 8% of clean energy jobs compared with 13% of the nationwide labor force.

Latinos hold about 17% of clean energy jobs, compared with 18% nationwide, the study said, noting that their job gains have largely been in lower-wage occupations such as construction.

Participation by women in the industry has declined in recent years, partially due to fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Women make up 27% of the sector's workforce today, compared with 29% four years ago. That compares with nearly 50% of the nationwide workforce.

Overall, people of color account for 27% of clean energy jobs, more than the 22% in the economy as a whole. That is largely because clean energy has about four times more workers who say they are of two or more races than the national labor force.

(Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by David Gregorio)

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