A recent report from Washington D.C.-based nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) and Clean Energy Trust in Chicago says nearly 81,000 Hoosiers worked in the clean energy and clean vehicles spaces at the end of 2020, a 7.2% drop from the previous year. The Clean Jobs Midwest report says despite the dip, the number of clean energy workers surged 12.5% in the second half of the year, recovering nearly half of the jobs that were lost. E2 Midwest Advocate Micaela Preskill says the key takeaway from the report is the clean energy sector continues to show promise in Indiana.

Preskill says clean energy jobs, as defined by the report, include renewable energy such as solar, wind, geothermal and low-impact hydro energy technologies. It also includes energy efficiency with people going into homes and businesses to find ways to save energy, as well as clean vehicles, fuel technology, and energy storage.

The loss of clean energy jobs in 2020, the report shows, was a dramatic change of pace for the state. In the three years leading up to 2020, clean energy jobs increased three times as fast as overall state employment.

“The industry was growing up until the pandemic started and like the rest of the economy, took a hit, but is bouncing back,” said Preskill. “So, those 80,000-some jobs in Indiana are all across the state and this is an industry that is a really good place to start when we’re looking for ways to grow jobs and grow the economy coming out of the pandemic.”

Energy efficiency jobs took the biggest hit last year, according to the analysis, decreasing nearly 12% over the previous year due to workers being unable to enter homes and offices because of pandemic-related lockdowns. However, some sectors did see job gains, including electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles, which employ a combined 4,800 workers in Indiana.

Preskill says Indiana is primed for growth in the clean energy sector and one of the best ways to foster that growth is through strong policy. She says there are many examples in the $3.5 trillion budget plan currently before Congress.

“In particular, we’re looking at some of the workforce training programs that are going to be included in the massive reconciliation package. We’re looking at the clean energy tax incentives that will help finance a lot of clean energy build in states like Indiana and we’re looking at the Clean Energy Payment Program (CEPP), which will also set real metrics for our country to be investing in clean energy. Those policies are not just necessary for our economy because climate change poses a real significant risk to our economy, but they’re going to create jobs and this is an industry that’s barely scratched the surface in terms of potential job creation.”

Nationally, clean energy employment fell by about 307,000 jobs compared to 2019, however the study says the sector recovered about 300,000 jobs in the second half of the year. Preskill cites a report that shows 8 million jobs could be created with the CEPP.

You can view the full report below or connect to it by clicking here.

Preskill says the drop in jobs last year was a major change of pace for the state.

Preskill says the best way to foster growth in clean energy is through policies, such as those being considered by Congress.