Published in Energy

Michigan loses another 1,000 clean energy jobs as advocates call for federal support

BY Monday, June 15, 2020 05:01pm

Michigan lost another 1,000 clean energy jobs last month, bringing the state’s total losses to 31,000 in the sector since the coronavirus pandemic spread in mid-March, according to an analysis of federal labor statistics.

The analysis from BW Research Partnership on behalf of business and environmental groups is the latest documenting the clean energy job losses as a result of COVID-19. Since mid March, more than 620,000 workers — mostly in the energy efficiency sector — have filed for unemployment. 

The additional May job losses run counter to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report last week showing the national unemployment rate improved last month.

“Despite the indications you may have heard … that there’s a robust economic recovery underway, it’s not what we’re seeing yet,” Bob Keefe, executive director of Environmental Entrepreneurs, said in announcing the report today.

According to the analysis, Michigan ranks fourth in total number of total clean energy jobs lost, behind California, Texas and Florida. Roughly two-thirds of the losses came from the energy efficiency sector.

The three-county region of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties were hardest hit in Michigan, losing more than 16,000 total jobs. Kent County has lost 1,738 clean energy jobs, according to the analysis.

Although the rate of clean energy job losses declined significantly from April to May, analysts say a surge in COVID-19 cases in some states, the end of the Paycheck Protection Program later this month and the uncertainty around additional stimulus funds creates “a lot of concern going forward,” said Phil Jordan, vice president and principal at BW Research.

This week, congressional committees will hold hearings on whether to direct federal stimulus funds to the clean energy sector.

“We’re increasingly concerned about continued or additional layoffs that may occur following the expiration of those (PPP) funds,” Jordan said, adding the virus resurgence and lack of additional stopgap funding “spells a great deal of uncertainty and volatility in this sector going forward.”

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