More than 714,000 people work in clean energy across the Midwest

By Michelle Froese 

More than 714,000 Midwesterners now work in clean energy industries across the Midwest according to a new analysis of energy jobs data from Clean Energy Trust (CET) and the national, nonpartisan business group E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs). The region’s clean energy economy now employs more than all the waiters and waitresses, computer programmers, lawyers and web developers in the Midwest combined, according to Department of Labor Employment Statistics.

Energy efficiency once again led all clean energy sectors, employing more than half million workers (513,695) while renewable energy came in second with more than 83,000 — led by wind and solar (73,675).

Released today, the report highlights the Midwest’s growing importance in America’s transition to renewable energy—adding nearly 4,000 new jobs across renewable industries (5% growth) in a year when total U.S. renewable jobs remained stagnant due to declines in other regions. Overall, the Midwest now employs four times more workers in clean energy than fossil fuels.

“The beauty of data is that it cuts through political rhetoric. These findings show that clean energy jobs in wind, solar and energy efficiency are growing across the region and that the Midwest continues to demonstrate it is a fertile region for clean energy innovation, enabling businesses to launch, grow, and create jobs,” said Erik G. Birkerts, CEO of Clean Energy Trust. “It’s irrational not to embrace and support these sectors that are driving economic development.”

According to Clean Jobs Midwest, clean energy employment across the 12-state region totaled 714,255 at the end of last year — led by Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio each with more than 100,000 jobs. The three Midwest leaders all ranked in the Top 10 nationwide for clean energy jobs. Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota also placed in the Top 20. Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota make up the other six states in the analysis.

Moving beyond statewide numbers, the most clean jobs in the Midwest came from Cook County, Illinois (54,735), Oakland County, Michigan (30,276), and Hennepin County, Minnesota (23,364). The major metro areas of Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis employ 172,031 jobs while over 158,531 jobs come from the Midwest’s rural areas.

More detailed breakdowns of clean energy jobs for all 12 states – including job totals for every county, congressional district, and state legislative district — can be found here at through an interactive map of the region.

Other key findings:

  • More than 30,000 Midwesterners now work in grid modernization and energy storage
  • Construction (39%) and manufacturing (33%) make up the majority of clean energy jobs
  • Clean fuels technologies employ nearly 8,000 workers in the 12-state region
  • 80,000 workers are employed across clean vehicle industries.
  • Employers project 4.5% clean energy job growth in 2018
  • Small businesses are driving the region’s clean energy sectors, with 71.4% of clean energy businesses employing fewer than 20 individuals.
  • 11.6% of Midwesterners employed in clean energy are veterans

“Clean jobs count in the Midwest,” said E2 Midwest states advocate Micaela Preskill. “This report clearly proves the Midwest is not only driving industry job growth, but also fast becoming a key destination for clean energy investment and expansion.”

The report follows E2’s Clean Jobs America analysis which found the clean energy jobs account for nearly 3.2 million jobs across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Both reports expand on the 2018 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) released in May by former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz’s Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) and the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO). CET and E2 were partners on the USEER.