Today’s most productive energy workers are in coal and gas, not solar

In an April 25 New York Times article (“Today’s Energy Jobs Are in Solar, Not Coal”) reporter Nadja Popovich wrote that “Last year, the solar industry employed many more Americans [373,807] than coal [160,119], while wind power topped 100,000 jobs.” Those energy employment figures are based on a Department of Energy report (“U.S. Energy and Employment Report”) released earlier this year that provides the most complete analysis available of employment in the energy economy.

But simply reporting rather enthusiastically (see the NYT headline again) that the solar industry employs lots of Americans, more than twice as many as the number of coal miners and utility workers at electric power plants using coal, is only telling a small part of the story. Here are some important energy facts that help provide a more complete picture about how much energy is being produced in different sectors, how many workers it takes to produce a given amount of electric power, and which sectors receive the most generous taxpayer handouts.

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