Arizona Solar Jobs Census 2013
Analysis of the Arizona Solar Workforce
The Solar Foundation® (TSF) is a national 501(c)(3) nonproﬁt organization whose mission is to
increase understanding of solar energy through strategic research that educates the public and
transforms markets. In 2010, The Solar Foundation® released its ﬁrst National Solar Jobs Census
report. Census 2010 established the ﬁrst credible national solar jobs baseline and veriﬁed the
positive impact the solar industry is having on the U.S. economy. Using the same rigorous, peerreviewed methodology, TSF has conducted an annual Census in each of the last four years to track
changes and analyze trends in the solar industry labor market.
This year s National Solar Jobs Census report series was produced by TSF and BW Research
Partnership with the support of the following research partners:
• The George Washington University’s Solar Institute (GW Solar Institute);
• The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA); and
• The Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC).
TSF would like to acknowledge and thank its Census sponsors. Without their foresight and
leadership, this report would not have been possible:
• Energy Foundation;
• Sierra Club;
• Recurrent Energy;
• GTM Research and SEIA for providing complimentary copies of the U.S. Solar Market
Insight: 2012 Year in Review report to survey respondents; and
• Cornell University’s School of Industrial Labor Relations for helping to validate the
methodological framework for Census 2010-2012.
TSF and BW Research also want to thank all of the Arizona solar employers that participated in the
survey. Your responses were critical in providing us with the high level of accurate and timely data
needed to produce this report.
For questions or comments about this report, please contact either:
Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director
The Solar Foundation®
505 9th Street, NW - Suite 800 Washington, DC 20004
Philip Jordan, Principal and Vice-President
BW Research Partnership
50 Mill Pond Dr. Wrentham, MA 02093
(508) 384-2471; firstname.lastname@example.org
Please cite this publication when referencing this material as “Arizona Solar Jobs Census 2013,
The Solar Foundation, available at: www.TSFcensus.org.”
Cover Photo Courtesy of First Solar
About The Solar Foundation®
The Solar Foundation® (TSF) is an independent national 501(c)(3) nonproﬁt whose
mission is to increase understanding of solar energy through strategic research that
educates the public and transforms markets. TSF is considered the premier research
organization on the solar labor force, employer trends, and economic impacts of solar. It
has provided leading-edge industry insight to the National Academies, the Inter-American
Development Bank, the U.S. Department of Energy, and other organizations during a time
of dynamic industry growth and policy and economic uncertainty.
While TSF recognizes that solar energy is a key part of our energy future, it is
committed to excellence in its aim to help people fairly and objectively gauge the value of
the solar industry worldwide.
About BW Research Partnership
BW Research is widely regarded as the national leader in labor market analysis for
emerging industries and clean energy technologies. In addition to the Census series, BW
Research has conducted rigorous solar installation and wind industry labor market
analysis for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, wind energy and energy retroﬁt
studies for the Natural Resources Defense Council, a series of comprehensive clean
energy workforce studies for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Illinois, and Vermont,
and numerous skills and gap analyses for community colleges, workforce investment
boards, state agencies, and nonproﬁt organizations.
BW Research provides high quality data and keen insight into economic and
workforce issues related to renewable energy, energy efﬁciency, transportation, recycling,
water, waste, and wastewater management, and other environmental ﬁelds. The principals
of the ﬁrm are committed to providing research and analysis for data-driven decisionmaking.
About The George Washington University Solar Institute
The George Washington University Solar Institute (GW Solar Institute) is a unique
research and information center focused on identifying, developing, and sharing
pragmatic and politically attuned solutions to the policy barriers preventing the adoption
and scale of solar energy. Toward these ends, the GW Solar Institute pursues research
projects in a wide range of disciplines, typically in partnership with other university
faculty, industry experts, and GW students. In addition, the GW Solar Institute also
leverages its intricate knowledge of the policymaking process and location in Washington,
DC to convene stakeholders and provide decision-makers with unbiased new ideas on
solar related policies, regulatory approaches, and government investments.
Solar installations nationwide expanded at a record pace in 2013, as companies
became more efﬁcient and workers more productive, with jobs growing at their fastest
rate since The Solar Foundation® began tracking them in 2010. Due to this growth, as of
November 2013, the U.S. solar industry employs 142,698 solar workers1 in every state
and across a wide range of activities. Current forecasts suggest no sign of a slowdown.
The national solar industry is poised to continue to both become more efﬁcient—
worker productivity increased by 21.5 % between 2012-2013—and add jobs, particularly
in the installation sector. After a record 19.9% employment growth, national solar
employers expect to grow their payrolls by adding workers at a 15.6% rate through
November 2014. These projections, if realized, would result in an additional 22,240 new
solar jobs across the United States.
Growth has not been even, however, and despite the national success of the industry
in the U.S., Arizona data reﬂect a much more challenging environment for solar over the
previous year. After a banner year in 2012, in which nearly 720 megawatts (MW) of
photovoltaic (PV) solar capacity were installed across the state (producing enough
electricity to meet the needs of over 90,000 average Arizona homes), new PV installations
in 2013 are expected to have taken a signiﬁcant hit by the end of 2013, dropping to only
444 MW – a nearly 40% decrease in new installed PV capacity year over year.2 This
decrease is largely due to less utility-scale PV capacity coming online in 2013 (300 MW
versus almost 600 MW in 2012), which is almost entirely made up for by the completion
of a large concentrating solar power (CSP) facility in October 2013 (Figure 1).
In this sense then, total annual installed capacity in 2013 is expected to be very
close to what was observed in the previous year. This research effort, however, ﬁnds that
solar employment was not similarly ﬂat, but instead decreased substantially year over
year, from 9,800 solar workers in 2012 to 8,558 in November 2013, a reduction in
workforce of 12.7%
This loss of over 1,200 jobs cannot be attributed to a single cause. Rather, this
decrease is more likely inﬂuenced by a number of factors both within the state and
beyond. One readily identiﬁable contributing factor is the completion of the 280 MW
Solar workers are deﬁned as those employees that spend at least 50% of their time conducting solar activities.
Nationally, and in Arizona, about 91% of all solar workers spend 100% of their time conducting solar activities.
Kann/ GTM Research, S., Mehta/ GTM Research, S., Shiao/ GTM Research, M., Honeyman/ GTM
Research, C., Litvak/ GTM Research, N., Jones/ GTM Research, J., . . . Baca/ SEIA, J. (2013). Solar Market
Insight 2013 Q3 | SEIA. Retrieved from http://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-market-insight-2013-q3.
Solana CSP facility in October. Currently Arizona’s largest operating solar electric project,
the Solana plant is estimated to have created more than 2,000 new jobs, and to have
supported a large number of indirect jobs, since construction began in late 2010.3 Given
this construction timeline, the employment impacts of the project were likely included in
our 2012 employment estimates, but absent from the 2013 ﬁgure, as the project was
completed and already in operation by the time data collection for Census 2013 began.
The observed employment decline may also stem in part from issues associated with
a maturing state market. Much of the solar hiring in Arizona may have occurred in the
early stages of market development and growth, when companies competed ﬁercely for
market share. Perhaps in an attempt to gain a ﬁrst mover’s advantage, some companies
may have staffed up quickly until their market position was secured. Once established in
the market, company hiring trends may have slowed or declined. Another potential cause
of the job losses in Arizona, as well as in other states showing employment slumps in
2013, may be the decline or shuttering of some major international solar businesses. Such
struggles or closures must have had a ripple effect throughout the solar supply chain and
the “unknown universe” (those companies who may not identify as solar businesses, but
do perform some solar-related activities) both domestically and abroad.
Finally, the policy uncertainty that has pervaded the state until very recently may
have contributed to Arizona’s poor showing in the 2013 employment ﬁgures. For much of
2013, it was evident that the state’s largest utility wished to reform its net metering policy,
but it was unclear just what form the revised policy would take. Such uncertainty may
have had a chilling effect on installations in some sectors, while consumers waited to
learn what policy changes would ultimately occur.
In addition, upfront incentives offered by the state’s investor-owned utilities for
residential solar were signiﬁcantly scaled back early in the year, as were performancebased incentives for commercial projects.4 Slowed capacity growth in the state’s
residential market segment is possibly a sign of these uncertainties. Even if the state met its
projected 70 MW of new residential capacity by the end of 2013,5 Arizona would still
only have seen this market segment grow by 13% over the previous year. By comparison,
Abengoa Solar (2011). United States. Retrieved February 7, 2014, from www.abengoasolar.com/web/en/
Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efﬁciency (2013, February 5). Arizona APS - Renewable
Energy Incentive Program. Retrieved February 8, 2014, from http://dsireusa.org/solar/incentives/incentive.cfm?
Kann/ GTM Research, S., Mehta/ GTM Research, S., Shiao/ GTM Research, M., Honeyman/ GTM
Research, C., Litvak/ GTM Research, N., Jones/ GTM Research, J., . . . Baca/ SEIA, J. (2013). Solar Market
Insight 2013 Q3 | SEIA. Retrieved from http://www.seia.org/research-resources/solar-market-insight-2013-q3
residential capacity in the state grew by nearly 94% from 2011-2012. Furthermore, this
projected residential growth rate is much lower than those expected for other leading
solar markets, including California (89% projected growth), Colorado (67%), Hawaii
(30%), Massachusetts (87%), and New York (50%).6 Though the stunted growth in some
Arizona market segments may be the result of policy uncertainty, it is not clear whether
these markets were a source of job losses. Such uncertainty, however, appears to have
prevented these market segments from more fully offsetting the declines in other areas.
Whatever the causes of the observed employment decline, over a third of Arizona
companies plan to add workers and about half expect to retain the same number of solar
workers, with only 5% anticipating further losses through November 2014.
Figure 1: Installed Solar Capacity—Arizona
The data in this report were collected from a census of the solar industry and a
representative sample of employers throughout the value chain of activities that contribute to the
industry. As with the National Solar Jobs Census, this report includes information about all types
of companies, from component manufacturers to installation subcontactors, engaged in the
production, sale, installation, and use of all solar technologies, ranging from PV to CSP to solar
water heating systems across the residential, commercial, and utility market segments.
Unlike economic impact models that generate employment estimates based on economic
data (such as company revenue) or jobs-per-megawatt (or jobs-per-dollar) assumptions, the
National Solar Jobs Census series provides statistically valid and current data gathered from
actual employers. The primary data contained in this report are drawn from a mixed-method
survey administered directly to employers. Data collection occurred during October and
November 2013 in two stages: (1) through a survey of so-called “known universe”
establishments, and; (2) via a random sampling of businesses within various construction, sales
and distribution, and manufacturing industries.
For this Arizona report, 14,867 telephone calls were attempted and over 75 emails were
sent to potential solar establishments across the state. This mixed approach, which the Bureau of
Labor Statistics recognizes as the emerging standard given its own limitations in calculating solar
employment, allows us to draw broad conclusions about the solar industry with a high degree of
conﬁdence, as well as generate accurate, local level employment estimates. More than 1,300
Arizona employers participated in the survey, resulting in 138 full survey completions. See the
methodology section (5.2) for additional details.
The ﬁgures included in this report are conservative estimates, meaning that there may well
be more solar workers than reported herein. It is also important to mention that there are limits to
the survey approach. Because the research ﬁndings are based on survey responses, the
employment growth ﬁgures cited in the following sections represent employers’ best estimates of
how many jobs they will add over the coming year. As seen in the National Solar Jobs Census
reports, actual growth may vary.
In addition, this report includes employment and demographic information at both the state
legislative district level and by federal congressional district. Conducting small-sample estimation
is a very challenging and labor-intensive exercise. For this study, a signiﬁcant oversample of
Arizona ﬁrms was required to gather enough responses to make estimates for 30 legislative
districts and nine congressional districts. Analysis of these data includes constructing zip-code
distribution allocations for each district in the known and unknown databases, small-area means
derivation, and comparisons to labor market statistics and demographic data. The results of this
rigorous work are included in the tables in Section 3.
2. Labor Market Analysis: Overview of the Industry
The solar industry in Arizona accounts for 8,558 solar workers, approximately 6% of the
entire national industry. This ﬁgure represents a decline in total employment of 1,242 workers (a
contraction of 12.7%) from September 2012 - November 2014.
Growth projections look slightly more promising through 2014, with over one-third of
Arizona solar ﬁrms expecting to add employees by November 2014 (34.1%) and 5.3% expecting
to shed workers statewide. Over half of all Arizona solar employers (51.5%) predict that
employment will remain at 2013 levels (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Employer Expectations, 12 Months—Arizona
When asked about their prospects for the 12 month period through November 2014,
employers reported an anticipated growth in employment of 5.6%. This represents the addition of
475 solar jobs, or 2.1% of the growth projected for solar employment in the U.S. over the same
time period (by comparison, the national average projected growth rate is 15.6%).
Participants were asked preliminary screener questions to determine whether they qualify
for the study and to understand the various solar activities taking place across the state. Arizona
solar establishments were asked to select the appropriate sector to which their ﬁrm belongs,
choosing from installation, manufacturing, sales and distribution, project development,
academic, nonproﬁt, government, or - for those that did not ﬁt into a category—“other,” such as
establishments that provide ancillary support to the solar industry (e.g., research and
development, ﬁnancial or legal services) (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Percentage of Respondents by Sector
Sales / Trade
Manufacturing / Assembling
Other (Including R&D)
Table 1: Data by Sector—Number of Solar Workers in Arizona
*2013 employment in “Other” includes 13 Arizona solar workers at nonproﬁts, 11 in government, and 8 in academia.
2013 - 2014 Expected
Sales and Distribution
The majority of Arizona establishments work with photovoltaics (67.9%), which is similar to
the rest of the country. While fewer ﬁrms identiﬁed water heating as a technology area that they
are actively involved in, the proportion is higher than in the U.S. as a whole (37.4% versus
32.7% nationally, Figure 4).
Figure 4: Solar Establishments by Technology Area
Water heating, which includes pool heating
Concentrating solar power
As part of the Census, survey respondents were asked what percent of their overall revenues
are attributable to solar, in order to determine how integral the technology is to their business
and whether they are diversiﬁed in other sectors. Over half of Arizona establishments rely on
solar goods and services for the majority of their revenue (54.2%), which is markedly lower than
the 65.2% reported nationally (Figure 5).
Figure 5: Company Revenues Attributed to Solar
As in the National Census, Arizona employers were queried on speciﬁc questions to
determine whether the new solar workers added from 2012 to 2013 were newly created
positions or represented existing employees given new solar tasks. In Arizona, 53.2% of the new
solar jobs over the past year were newly created positions, considerably lower than the 76.9%
reported nationally (Figure 6). When reviewing information about new positions, it is important
to remember that more than 1,000 recently laid off, experienced solar workers in Arizona will
ﬁercely compete for any new positions created by the industry in 2014.
Figure 6: New Positions at Solar Establishments
For Arizona establishments that reported new solar employment over the previous year,
over half indicated that those hired were required to have previous work experience related to
the position (52.6%). Employers were also asked about the wages paid to a subset of their
workers. Arizona solar ﬁrms pay their installers approximately $18 per hour, though less than the
national average among solar ﬁrms ($2 per hour less than the median wage paid nationally and
$6.29 per hour less than the mean wage).
Figure 7: Background of Newly Hired Solar Worker - Percent of Workers
Arizona solar ﬁrms were also asked to provide a demographic proﬁle of their workforce,
with a particular focus on women, racial and ethnic minorities, and U.S veterans. Because of the
sensitive nature of these questions, the survey was careful to avoid social obligation bias;
however, as documented by survey experts, some bias in such questions is inevitable. As a result,
it is likely that the ﬁgures reported below are inﬂated by some 10 to 15%. Despite this, the
demographic data do provide a general understanding of the demographic makeup of the
industry and a baseline from which to track progress in future Census reports and comparison to
national industry data.
Overall, the solar industry in Arizona is quite diverse as seen in Figure 8 below.
Figure 8: Demographic Breakdown - Overall
Additionally, 1,391 (16.3%) solar workers in Arizona are veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces,
which is a much higher rate than the national solar industry (in which veterans represent 9.2% of
all solar workers).
2.1 Detailed Labor Market Analysis: Installation
As of November 2013, there are 318 establishments in Arizona’s installation sector,
employing 3,311 solar workers (38.7% of overall Arizona solar employment and 4.8% of
national solar installation employment).
One-third of installation ﬁrms expect to add more workers by November 2014 (33.3%),
compared to 44.4% nationally (Figure 9). This represents the addition of 154 solar installation
workers, or a 4.6% growth rate over 12 months. This growth rate is considerably lower than the
ﬁgure reported nationally among installation ﬁrms (21.1%).
Figure 9: 12-Month Hiring Expectations—Installation Establishments
As illustrated by Figure 10 below, photovoltaics dominate the Arizona installation
landscape (66.7%), although water heating is also prominent in the sector (43.1%), much more
so than at the national level, where only 38.5% of installation ﬁrms report working with the
Figure 10: Percentage of Firms by Technology—Installation
Of solar installation ﬁrms that work with photovoltaic products, the majority of
establishments are engaged in small commercial installations (79.2%), residential systems
(72.9%), and medium to large commercial or industrial projects (54.2%).
Figure 11: Percentage of Photovoltaic Installers, by Size of Project
The vast majority of respondents in this sector attribute consumer demand to solar’s
potential to save money (72.2%), as seen in Figure 12 below.
Figure 12: Consumer Demand Drivers—Installers
Photo Courtesy NREL
2.2 Detailed Labor Market Analysis: Sales and Distribution
There are 142 sales and distribution establishments in Arizona that employ approximately
1,472 solar workers, according to Census estimates. The employers in the solar sales and
distribution sector sell all types of solar products and play a pivotal role in the solar supply chain.
These establishments work in wholesale and retail trade of components and ﬁnished products.
A majority of sales and distribution companies work with photovoltaic systems (84.0%),
while 40.0% provide solar water heating equipment (Figure 13).
Figure 13: Percentage of Establishments by Product Sales—Sales and Distribution
Fewer sales and distribution ﬁrms in Arizona attribute all of their revenue to solar products
when compared to the national average (48.0% in Arizona compared to 52.8% nationally).
Figure 14: Percentage of Revenue Related to Solar Products—Sales and Distribution
Solar sales and distribution ﬁrms are less optimistic about future growth than the national
average, with 36.0% expecting to add employment over the coming 12 months (55.3%
nationally). Despite limited expectations of growth, employment in the sector is projected to
increase by 15.8% in Arizona over the next year, representing the addition of 233 solar
Figure 15: 12 Month Hiring Expectations—Sales and Distribution
Due to the limited survey response of solar ﬁrms in manufacturing, project development,
and "other" (including nonproﬁt, academia, and government) in Arizona, statistically signiﬁcant
data and analyses are unavailable for these sectors.
3. Geographic Data
In addition to the statewide results, this report includes information about the distribution of
solar workers across state legislative and congressional districts in Arizona, included in the maps
and tables below.
State Legislative Districts
Brophy McGee, Kate
Contreras, Lupe Chavira
Gowan Sr., David M.
Gonzales, Sally Ann
Quezada, Martin J.
Escamilla, Juan Carlos
Miranda, Catherine H.
Cardenas, Mark A.
Mesnard, Javan "J.D."
Stevens, David M.
Saldate IV, Macario
McCune Davis, Debbie
Landrum Taylor, Leah
Cajero Bedford, Olivia
Federal Congressional Districts
Gosar, Paul A.
Given the employment and other struggles facing the Arizona solar industry over
the last year, many will be watching the state closely over the next several years to see
whether or not it can retain its position as the second-largest solar market and employer of
solar workers. Installation forecasts show new annual PV capacity continuing to decline
through 2015. However, much of this overall decline will be driven by a far lower amount
of new utility-scale capacity coming online than was installed in either of the last two
years. Over the same period, new residential solar capacity is expected to increase at a
signiﬁcantly higher rate than that projected for 2012-2013. Because utility-scale projects
have a lower labor intensity (i.e., fewer jobs supported per MW) than residential
installations, employment growth resulting from capacity additions in the latter market
segment could help offset lower employment levels arising from a decline in new utilityscale installations. Regardless of the factors involved, Arizona solar employers remain
optimistic about future job growth, anticipating the addition of 475 workers (5.6% growth)
over the next year. Only a thorough reinvestigation of state solar employment at the end of
2014 will reveal how companies in Arizona have ultimately fared.
The Arizona Census also found that the state solar industry employs a larger than
average proportion of veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces than the national solar industry.
Approximately one in six Arizona solar workers (16.3%) have served in the military,
though statewide, U.S. veterans under 65 (those most likely to be working or seeking
work) only represent 9.7% of the state’s total civilian labor force. The Arizona solar
industry’s employment of veterans also compares favorably with the national solar
industry as a whole, in which 9.2% of solar workers were found to be former service
members. Identifying the causes behind the relatively high employment rate of veterans in
the state solar industry is a subject for further research. However, The Solar Foundation®,
in partnership with the Truman National Security Project’s “Operation Free” campaign,
seeks to take on a related effort—designed to understand how skills developed in military
occupations transfer over to jobs in the solar industry—which may provide some insight
into the factors driving the high veteran employment rate observed in the Arizona solar
If you ﬁnd this Arizona Census to be useful, please don't hesitate to make a taxdeductible donation to The Solar Foundation®. Each donation, no matter the size, helps
us provide credible research that deepens our understanding of the industry and drives
the market. More information at www.TheSolarFoundation.org
5.1 Data Sources
EMSI Data Sources and Calculations
In order to capture a complete picture of industry employment, EMSI basically combines
covered employment data from Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW)
produced by the Department of Labor with total employment data in Regional Economic
Information System (REIS) published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA),
augmented with County Business Patterns (CBP) and Nonemployer Statistics (NES)
published by the U.S. Census Bureau. Projections are based on the latest available EMSI
industry data, 15-year past local trends in each industry, growth rates in statewide and
(where available) sub-state area industry projections published by individual state
agencies, and (in part) growth rates in national projections from the Bureau of Labor
State Data Sources
This report uses state data from the following agencies: Arizona Labor Market Information
5.2 Data Limitations and Methodology
The Arizona Solar Jobs Census methodology is most closely aligned with the
Bureau of Labor Statistics’ methodology for its Quarterly Census of Employment and
Wages (QCEW) and Current Employment Statistics (CES). Like BLS, this study uses survey
questionnaires and employer-reported data, though ours are administered by phone and
email, as opposed to mail.
Also like BLS, we develop a hierarchy of various categories that represent solar
value chain activities (within their broader NAICS framework), develop representative
sample frames, and use statistical analysis and extrapolation in a very similar manner to
BLS. We also constrain our universe of establishments by relying on the most recent data
from the BLS or the state departments of labor, depending on which is collected most
recently. We believe that the categories that we have developed could be readily adopted
by BLS should it choose to begin to quantify solar employment in its QCEW and CES
The survey was administered to a known universe of solar employers that includes
approximately 535 establishments and is derived from SEIA’s National Solar Database as
well as other public and private sources. Of these establishments, 99 provided
information about their solar activities (or lack thereof), and 53 completed full or
substantially completed surveys.
The Arizona survey was also administered to a stratiﬁed, clustered, random
sampling from various industries that are potentially solar-related that include a total of
5,339 establishments in Arizona. After an extensive cleaning and de-duplication process,
a sampling plan was developed that gathered information on the level of solar activity
(including none) from 1,223 establishments. Of these, 85 establishments qualiﬁed for and
completed full surveys. This level of sampling rigor provides a margin of error for
establishment counts at +/-2.36% and employment at +/-7.34% at a 95% conﬁdence
interval. For a fuller description of the methodology, please see the National Solar Jobs
Census 2013 available at www.TSFcensus.org.
It is of further importance to note that the ﬁgures provided in this report are estimates
based on surveys administered only to employers in installation, manufacturing, sales and
distribution, project development and “other” establishments in research and
development, legal services, ﬁnance and accounting, academia, government agencies,
nonproﬁt organizations, and other ancillary employers that do solar work. Data for the
“other” category do not capture all jobs or establishments in the category. Although some
“other” establishments are included in the Known Universe, accounting, legal, ﬁnance,
and other ancillary establishments spend only a very small portion of their time on solar
activities. Thus, full inclusion would lead to inﬂated employment counts.
5.3 Frequently Asked Questions
Are these "Direct Jobs" only?
Direct, indirect, and induced are terms intended to explain the various levels of economic
activity that result from changes to an economy. These ﬁgures, generated by economic modeling
exercises, are best applied to speciﬁc projects rather than entire industries. For example, a utility
scale solar project would have a certain number of people working on the construction of the
plant (direct), the workers who manufacture and deliver the goods (indirect), and support the
local economy by increasing the spending on goods and services, such as restaurants, gas
stations, and retail establishments (induced). Census data includes most of the direct and
indirect jobs in the solar industry, with the exception of some indirect jobs in the component and
materials supply chain.
How does your methodology compare with the Bureau of Labor Statistics?
The Census methodology is most closely aligned with the Bureau of Labor Statistics’
methodology for its Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) and Current
Employment Statistics (CES). Like BLS, this study uses survey questionnaires and employerreported data, though ours are administered by phone and email, as opposed to mail. Also like
BLS, we develop a hierarchy of various categories that represent solar value chain activities
(within their broader NAICS framework), develop representative sample frames, and use
statistical analysis and extrapolation in a very similar manner to BLS. We also constrain our
universe of establishments by relying on the most recent data from the BLS or the state
departments of labor, depending on which is collected most recently. We believe that the
categories that we have developed could be readily adopted by BLS should it choose to begin to
quantify solar employment in its QCEW and CES series.
How is a solar worker deﬁned?
A "solar worker" is deﬁned as those workers who spend at least 50% of their time supporting
solar-related activities.7 This deﬁnition helps to avoid the over-counting that is inherent in
methods that count every single job in terms of FTEs or job hours. For example, although the BLS
does not yet quantify solar jobs, they count other types of occupations by counting every single
job separately regardless of hours or fraction of time actually spent on the job. As a result,
according to the BLS, someone with three part-time jobs yields three jobs. Although the BLS and
others consider our methodology to be the emerging standard for tracking jobs they do not yet
track, critics of our methodology claim a 50% deﬁnition causes jobs to be over counted.
However, the reality is that over 90% of those who meet our deﬁnition of a solar worker in 2013
nationally actually spend 100% of their time supporting solar-related activities. Because the
Census covers sectors directly related to new installed solar capacity and the sectors that support
these efforts, jobs ﬁgures are best thought of as covering direct and indirect jobs.
In Arizona, 91.4% of all solar workers spend 100% of their time on solar activities.
What is the minimum education necessary to enter the solar job ﬁeld?
While there exist entry-level positions for individuals interested in entering
certain solar job ﬁelds, there is not always an immediate pathway into these jobs.
Of the employers who participated in the Arizona Solar Jobs Census, 52.6%
indicated that they look for previous related experience in the solar workers they
hire. In addition, 7.2% noted they require at least an associate’s degree or
certiﬁcate from an accredited college and 4.1% seek workers with a bachelor’s
degree or beyond. Those interested in beginning a career in the solar industry can
learn more about the education, experience, and skills required for these jobs by
visiting the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Career Map at http://
More FAQs about the Census methodology and national results are available in
the National Solar Jobs Census 2013, available at www.TSFcensus.org.
6. Solar Employment in Other States
Due to the immense investment of time and funding required to do so accurately
with a survey-based methodology, the Census report series does not directly provide
estimates of solar employment in each of the 50 states. In early 2013, The Solar
Foundation® published its ﬁrst-ever State Solar Jobs Map (www.solarstates.org), an
interactive, web-based tool presenting the most credible estimates of state-level jobs
currently known. These ﬁgures were internally generated by The Solar Foundation® with
technical assistance from the Solar Energy Industries Association’s Research Department
using thousands of data points from a combination of high-quality sources, including
survey results from National Solar Jobs Census Series and the Solar Energy Industries
Association’s “National Solar Database.”
These state employment ﬁgures were produced using a carefully developed dual
methodology—one for installation and construction jobs and another for distributed
generation and non-installation jobs. In brief, method one employed labor intensity
multipliers developed internally and cross checked with leading studies on the subject,
while method two was based not only on a direct count of solar workers, but also the
average number of jobs per solar establishment and total number of establishments in
each state. The ﬁnal state totals provided are the rounded average of our high and low
Updated state-level employment estimates were made available through The Solar
Foundation’s® State Solar Jobs Map website (www.solarstates.org) on February 11th,
Unless otherwise noted, all design, text, graphics, and the selection and arrangement
thereof are Copyright February 2014 by The Solar Foundation® and BW Research
Partnership. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Any use of materials in this report, including
reproduction, modiﬁcation, distribution, or republication, without the prior written
consent of The Solar Foundation® and BW Research Partnership, is strictly prohibited.
Please cite this publication when referencing this material as “Arizona Solar Jobs Census
2013, The Solar Foundation, available at www.TSFcensus.org. ”