April 20, 2017 Read More →

What’s the Fastest-Growing Occupation in America?

Washington Post:

The fastest-growing occupation in the United States — by a long shot, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — might surprise you: wind turbine technician.

The number of workers maintaining wind turbines, a job with a median pay of about $51,000 a year, is set to more than double between 2014 and 2024, the agency estimates. That’s a more rapid growth rate than that of physical therapists, financial advisers, home health aides and genetic counselors.

There’s a notable caveat, of course. Because “wind tech” remains a small occupation, its rapid projected growth will probably amount to only about 5,000 additional jobs in the coming years. Even so, the proliferation of wind turbine technicians hints at a larger reality: The U.S. wind industry, like renewable energy in general, is continuing to flourish.

In 2016, for the first time, more than 100,000 people in the United States were employed in some manner by the wind industry, according to an annual report released Wednesday by the American Wind Energy Association. The industry grew by double digits once again. The first offshore wind farm became a reality off Rhode Island. And wind was the primary source of new energy installations in much of the Midwest, the Plains states and in Texas, which has nearly 12,000 wind turbines and generates more than a quarter of the nation’s wind energy.

Kiernan said that as turbines become more efficient and cheaper to produce, the wind industry should be positioned to continue to grow even without existing tax incentives. And despite Trump’s rhetoric, he said some members of the Trump administration, namely Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Energy Secretary Rick Perry — the former Texas governor — have shown signs of support. “We are optimistic in working with them,” he said.

Ultimately, it could boil down to jobs. The wind industry employs tens of thousands of people in some of the states where support for Trump was strong: Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas. Kieran said he hopes that a president who vowed to create jobs will see the value in a sector that is doing that.

“The job growth we’re seeing,” he said, “is nine times greater than the average industry in this country.”

The U.S. wind industry now employs more than 100,000 people

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