Wind Energy: Jobs & Economic Benefits in all 50 States

U.S. wind power is the number one source of renewable energy generating capacity in the country, and has grown at an average annual pace of 12 percent over the last five years.

The American wind industry is a leading creator of jobs and economic development in areas that need it most, from America’s rural areas to Rust Belt manufacturing hubs. Texas, the national leader, has more than 22,000 wind jobs. Oklahoma, Iowa, Colorado, and Kansas each have more than 5,000 wind energy employees. In total, half of U.S. states have 1,000 or more wind jobs.

The U.S. wind industry is a major source of investment and economic development. The industry has invested more than $143 billion in U.S. wind projects over the last decade. Put another way, U.S. wind energy invested more in 2016 ($13.8 billion) than the annual revenue of the National Football League (NFL).

The U.S. wind industry continues to grow American jobs at a rapid pace. In 2016, the industry added nearly 15,000 new jobs and now employs a record 102,500 Americans in all 50 states. Since 2013, wind jobs have grown more than 25 percent a year, and wind turbine technician is America’s fastest growing job. The industry provides well-paying jobs in wind energy project planning, siting, development, construction, manufacturing and supply chain, and operations.  

The benefits of wind energy are widespread – the industry has wind plants (blue coloring) or manufacturing facilities (red dots) in all 50 states. The Department of Energy recently found that more Americans work in wind than in nuclear, coal, natural gas or hydroelectric power generation.

Discover more about the historical benefits of American wind energy here.

Navigant shows wind poised for continued growth

A new report from Navigant Consulting concludes that the U.S. wind industry will drive over $85 billion in economic activity over the next four years while wind-related employment will grow to reach 248,000 jobs in all 50 states in 2020. The report forecasts new wind project additions from 2017-2020 made possible, in part, by the multi-year extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) in late 2015, and quantifies the jobs and economic benefits associated with those additions.  Navigant finds the multi-year extension of the PTC will enable the development of around 35,000 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity across the country between 2017 and 2020.

Winds Jobs to Soar over 200,000

Strong wind project construction activity, growth in wind component manufacturing, and demand for more wind turbine technicians and project operators will create tens of thousands of wind jobs. By 2020, Navigant expects 33,000 Americans to be working in wind manufacturing facilities, 114,000 Americans to be building, operating and maintaining wind turbines, and an additional 102,000 workers in jobs supporting the industry. 

Wind a Major Source of Economic Investment

In addition to creating jobs, the 35,000 MW of expected wind additions through 2020 will have a significant impact on the economy. Investments in new wind turbines, construction and operations expenditures, and tax payments will support up to $24 billion in annual economic impact. Over the full 2017-2020 period, wind is expected to drive $85 billion in economic activity.

Much of this economic investment flows to rural areas and manufacturing hubs that need it most, as shown below. In addition to investments in manufacturing, construction, and operation, wind projects provide substantial funding to states and local communities through sales, income, and property taxes. These localized revenues provide new resources to fix roads, buy ambulances, or improve schools.

Discover more about the economic benefits of wind and read the full Navigant study here