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Missouri clean energy companies face high unemployment rates

Missouri’s clean energy industry has seen substantial job losses in the wake of COVID-19, according to a recent study.

Missouri’s unemployment numbers skyrocketed in March following the spread of positive cases and the state’s stay-at-home orders. Many industries were forced to lay-off and furlough workers, leading to high unemployment rates across various industries. Data presented by E2 found that many of those jobs were in clean energy. 

The study reported that a total of 9,312 of Missouri’s clean energy workers across various sectors had filed for unemployment since March, including 340 new claims filed in May. According to E2, more than 620,000 clean energy workers across the country have lost their jobs over the last few months, with a nationwide total of around 27,000 new filings in May.

The analysis reported a decrease of 16.1 percent in employment for the energy efficiency sector of clean energy in Missouri since March for a total of 6,855 jobs lost. The same sector employed 42,537 workers in 2019. Energy efficiency unemployment amounted to 74 percent of Missouri’s clean energy unemployment claims, according to the report. 

The renewable energy sector also reported substantial losses. 954 renewable energy jobs, particularly in wind and solar energy, have been lost according to the report. This amounts to 17.9 percent of the renewable energy workforce in the state, according to E2’s data. 

Clean Jobs Midwest 2020 reported the clean energy industry employed 56,486 workers in Missouri in 2019, calling it one of the fastest-growing Missouri job markets with an employment increase of 4 percent since 2017.

The report estimated prior to the health crisis that, based on the growth seen in the industry over the past few years and employers’ plans, clean energy would have seen an 8.7 percent growth rate with around 5,000 new jobs for Missouri in 2020, the highest growth rate in the Midwest.    

“I am part of the 56,000-person clean energy industry in Missouri,” Sunny Sanwar, founder of Kansas City-based energy consumption analytics company Dynamhex, said in a statement. “My company is helping cities and municipalities across the country become more energy-efficient — and creating jobs in the process. Let’s not forget the money saved by reducing a consumer’s energy burden can also lead to more money getting spent in our communities. We need investments in energy efficiency now more than ever.” 

Clean Jobs Midwest is an annual report put together with data from clean energy business groups E2 and the Clean Energy Trust that analyzes employment rates in renewable energy in 12 midwestern states. The study has been released every year since 2016, and has shown a substantial increase in employment in the clean energy market in Missouri and the Midwest as a whole.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.