The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit solar education and research organization, recently released a first-of-its-kind review of the solar work force in the United States. The report, “National Solar Jobs Census 2010: A Review of the U.S. Solar Workforce,” found that hiring in that sector is on the rise. Nationally, more than half of the solar employers plan to increase their work force in the next year.

“Among other things, this study shows that investments made through Recovery Act, including the $2.3 billion in tax credits to U.S.-based clean-energy manufacturing are already generating positive results,” said Hilda L. Solis, Secretary of Labor. “The solar-energy sector is an increasingly important source of good jobs for Americans. Fostering the growth of this emerging industry will help protect our environment, ensure the U.S. remains competitive in the global economy and offer a great opportunity for the nation’s working families.”

The survey examined employment along the solar value chain, including installation, wholesale trade, manufacturing, utilities and all other fields and includes growth rates and job numbers for 31 separate occupations. The report included data from more than 2,400 solar company survey respondents.

As of August 2010, the National Solar Jobs Census identified more than 16,700 solar-employment sites and 93,000 solar jobs in all 50 states. It also found that solar employers expect to increase the number of solar workers by 26 percent, representing nearly 24,000 net new jobs by August 2011. This rate is significantly higher than the expected 3 percent net job loss in fossil fuel power generation and the economy-wide expectation of 2 percent growth, over the same period.

“This first-ever national census shows that solar jobs are on the rise and expected to grow 26 percent in the coming year,” said Andrea Luecke, acting executive director of The Solar Foundation. “By examining the data from thousands of companies along the entire supply-chain, the study shows that the solar industry is having a substantial and positive impact on the U.S. economy.”

John Bunge, associate professor in the department of Statistical Science at Cornell University, and an associate professor of social statistics at Cornell’s Industrial and Labor Relations School, commented on the first solar jobs census: “This study contains high-quality research methodology. Using both primary and secondary data sources further strengthens this data and ensures even higher confidence in its results.”