116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Nearly half of Iowa’s clean energy jobs lost during the COVID-19 pandemic were regained during 2021, according to a new report released Wednesday.
Iowa lost 9.7 percent of its clean energy workforce in 2020, dropping to around 28,900 jobs. By the end of 2021, more than 30,300 clean energy jobs were recorded in the state — a 5 percent increase from the year before.
The energy efficiency sector supported 18,864 workers in Iowa and led in total clean energy jobs. The renewable energy and advanced transportation sectors followed, generating 5,682 and 3,594 jobs respectively.
Jobs dealing with clean transportation — mainly, electric and hybrid vehicles — represented the fastest-growing sector with a 25 percent increase.
The report was presented by the national nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) and the Midwestern nonprofit Evergreen Climate Innovations. It marked the seventh annual report analyzing clean energy jobs across 12 Midwestern states.
“The new Clean Jobs Midwest report underscores that clean energy is an economic engine for Iowa,” Todd Miller, president of 1 Source Solar based in Ankeny, said in a news release. His solar business has grown from two to 40 employees.
● Clean energy occupations accounted for 22 percent of all construction jobs and 2 percent of all manufacturing jobs in Iowa.
● Small businesses drive Iowa’s clean energy sector: In 2021, 74 percent of Iowa’s clean energy businesses employed fewer than 20 people.
● Ten percent of Iowans employed in clean energy are veterans.
Iowa’s clean energy job growth in 2021, when the economy was still below pre-pandemic levels, mirrored the 5 percent increase in clean energy employment for the Midwest as a whole. The region is now home to more than 714,000 clean energy jobs.
E2 and Evergreen Climate Innovations attributed the growth to cheaper clean energy technologies and more policies in place — both local and federal — that advance clean energy goals. The Inflation Reduction Act, for instance, includes tax credits for solar projects, electric vehicles and energy-efficiency technology.
To make the most out of these opportunities, E2 Midwest advocate Micaela Preskill encouraged more workforce training programs that prioritize creating jobs in disadvantaged communities. She also called for further expansion of the power grid and more state policies that encourage clean energy job growth.
Illinois and Michigan, which are leading the Midwest in clean energy jobs, were highlighted for their policies that support transitions to clean energy. Iowa has experienced pushback to renewable generation like solar and wind power.
“The clean energy industry is poised for growth like we've never seen before,” Preskill said. “There's never been more stability and certainty in the market … A transition to a clean economy that supports everyone is within reach.”
Brittney J. Miller is an environmental reporter for The Gazette and a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues.
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