Clean-air jobs are growing in Illinois

by Brett Peveto
Illinois News Connection

In Illinois, the average wage for clean-energy workers is a little over $22 an hour.
CHICAGO - A new look at clean-energy jobs in the U.S. shows growth in Illinois and the prospect of greater gains in the future.

The Department of Energy recently released its annual U.S. Energy and Employment report showing clean-energy jobs increased nearly 4% nationally over the last year, faster than the overall rate of job growth in the nation.

Illinois saw more than 3% growth in clean-energy jobs.

Micaela Preskill, Midwest advocate for the group Environmental Entrepreneurs, said the state is poised to see more growth.

"There's a huge variety of jobs and the types of workers and companies in this industry," Preskill pointed out. "And it has lots of promise to continue putting people to work in Illinois, and to really see tremendous growth in the coming years."

She noted the clean energy industry in Illinois supports more than 123,000 jobs.

Jobs in the clean-energy sector include renewable-energy generation, grid modernization and storage, efficiency upgrades, as well as clean vehicle manufacturing. When looking at the clean-energy industry, researchers at E2 have found wages in the sector on average to be above the national median wage and Preskill added it holds true in Illinois.

"In Illinois, the average wage for clean-energy workers is a little over $22 an hour," Preskill reported. "Which is 13% above the state median wage."

The Department of Energy report showed the energy sector nationally has recovered 71% of the jobs lost during the pandemic, but the distribution of jobs has shifted across technologies.

Preskill noted the current DOE report is based on last year's numbers and does not capture the full impact of recent legislation.

"We've tracked 193 projects that will create 66,000 jobs and amount to $84 billion in private investment," Preskill explained. "And that's just looking at the Inflation Reduction Act. We know that there's been expansion in Illinois, in particular the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, and even other federal climate policy."

The state's Climate and Equitable Jobs Act was passed in 2021.