The number of people employed by the US solar power industry increased by over 13% since 2011, according to non-profit solar education and research organisation, the Solar Foundation.

According to the Washington-based foundation, the industry added 13,872 employees in the year ended in September -  a 13.2% increase that brought total domestic employment to 119,016.

Andrea Luecke, executive director of the Solar Foundation, said: “During the past several years, the solar industry has grown at significantly higher rates than most other industries, making it one of the foremost creators of new jobs in the United States.”

The group noted that the 13.2% growth rate was eight times the overall economy’s growth rate of 1.6%.

Luecke said: “Nearly one third of employers who responded to the survey cited the continued decline in component prices as the primary driver of employment growth.”

The organisation cited federal tax incentives, renewable portfolio standards and legislation supporting third-party system ownership as other helpful factors.

The Solar Foundation said the report – done with BW Research and technical assistance from Cornell University – was compiled using data collected from more than 1,000 solar companies. That gave the report a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5%.

Along with the 2012 employment figure, the Solar Foundation released a revised figure for 2011, boosting it from 100,237 to 105,145.

A statement released by the Solar Foundation said:  “As in previous years, the survey examined employment along the solar value chain, including installation, wholesale trade, manufacturing, utilities and all other fields and includes growth rates and job numbers for 31 separate occupations.”

Philip Jordan, Chief Business Officer at BW Research Partnership, said: “The National Solar Jobs Census 2012 provides a solid point of reference about solar industry employment that wasn’t available three years ago.

“The Solar Foundation’s research is allowing training providers, job seekers and the public to understand the solar job market with a high degree of confidence.”

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