The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) issued an annual report entitled Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2017. The report states that globally, there are over 9 million people working in the alternative energy field, about 1/3 of them in China. In the United States, there are 777,000 people working in alternative energy, mostly in solar and wind energy generation.
To put that in perspective, that’s about 10 times as many people in the coal industry. According to a Washington Post article, in 2014 (the last year this data was collected), there were less than 77,000 people employed in the coal industry, which is less than the number of people employed by Arby’s.
The Washington Post article goes on to point out that economic factors and mechanization of mining has resulted in a falling coal industry employment for decades. In fact, in a recent CNN report, Gary Cohn, who serves as director of the White House National Economic Council, was quoted as saying “Coal doesn’t even make that much sense anymore as a feedstock.” Cohn goes on to say “If you think about how solar and how much wind power we’ve created in the United States, we can be a manufacturing powerhouse and still be environmentally friendly.” What is most interesting about these quotes is that they are coming from a senior Trump Administration official, and contrasts directly with the White House messaging.