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Published in Energy
Michigan’s employment in major energy technology applications. Michigan’s employment in major energy technology applications. COURTESY PHOTO

Michigan leads states in energy-sector job growth, federal report finds

BY Tuesday, July 05, 2022 12:14pm

Michigan added more energy-sector jobs than any other state in 2021, boosted primarily by the automotive industry and growing attention to hybrid and electric vehicle models.

That’s according to an annual U.S. Department of Energy report released last week that showed Michigan added a best-in-the-nation 35,463 energy-sector jobs from 2020 — more than Texas, California and Florida. 

While overall U.S. energy-sector jobs are still below pre-pandemic levels in 2019, nearly all technologies added energy jobs in 2021, according to the DOE report. Last year, energy-sector jobs grew 4 percent — or more than 300,000 jobs — over 2020 to a total of 7.8 million jobs.

The annual report tracks employment in motor vehicles, energy efficiency, fuels, electric power generation and transmission/distribution/storage. The DOE report tracks “all the professional, construction, utility, operations, and production occupations associated with energy infrastructure, production, and use, including the manufacturing of motor vehicles.”

At 393,207 jobs, the energy sector in Michigan represents 9.5 percent of total state employment. Most of these — 255,622 jobs — are in the motor vehicle sector, followed by energy efficiency and electric power generation. 

According to the DOE report, Michigan gained 37,167 motor vehicle-related jobs last year over 2020, or 17 percent. These occupations are primarily in the manufacturing space.

That auto-sector job growth came as little surprise to Deeana Ahmed, vice president of strategy and government relations for Our Next Energy Inc. (ONE), a Novi-based energy storage manufacturer in the electric vehicle and battery storage spaces.

“The (DOE report) findings are correct and there’s strong evidence we’ll see that continue to grow further,” Ahmed told MiBiz. “The roots of electrification were born in Michigan.”

ONE’s Aries battery packs designed for commercial fleet vehicles are set to enter full-scale production in 2023. Ahmed said the technology — which relies on more abundant raw materials of lithium, iron and phosphate — has a $5 billion book of business over the next five years.

As well, ONE is nearing the end of its site selection process for a new gigafactory that would significantly boost its production capacity and add more than 2,000 jobs by 2027. (ONE currently has 151 full time employees, mostly in Michigan.) 

“Michigan is a very strong contender for siting that factory,” Ahmed said, adding that state lawmakers’ work to attract next-generation auto companies has been “pretty central to the acceleration” of the sector’s growth.

“I think we have generational investments coming in from the federal and state governments,” Ahmed said. “Many programs and policies are shaping the growth and ability to capitalize.”

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