Comparison of Pay and Unionization in Renewables and Fossil Fuels

9/16/20

Jobs extracting fossil fuels have been disappearing for years, because of mechanization and cost reductions in natural gas and renewables. This page shows the number and pay of various jobs in May 2019.

 

Some people think people who lose fossil fuel extraction jobs can move to renewable jobs. They really search for work in all industries, and compete with workers from all industries applying for jobs in renewables.

 

So fossil fuel workers will not necessarily shift to jobs in renewables. Nevertheless, this page also shows the number and pay of various jobs in renewables to address the possibility of shifting from one to the other.

 

Renewables are less unionized than coal, maybe more unionized than oil and gas extraction. Pay in the wind industry seems comparable to the high end of fossil fuel pay, while solar (which includes mostly residential solar) is comparable to the low end.

 

In any case people changing to a new industry usually start low in the pay scale.

 

UNIONIZATION

        Wind and solar are between 4% and 6% unionized.

        Natural gas, nuclear and coal power plants are between 10-12% unionized. Some of these workers shift to other jobs at the same utilities.

        Transportation, distribution and storage jobs, which are largely in fossil fuel sectors, have among the highest share of union jobs at 17%. These jobs are not disappearing

        Data above come from USEER 2020 U.S. Energy & Employment Report usenergyjobs.org/s/USEER-2020-0615.pdf and are summarized in axios.com/biden-unions-clean-energy-c11d1d4f-10af-4c94-b0de-ec63cb919ad0.html

        That USEER study shows fossil fuel extraction 1% to 3% unionized in 2019, although:

        EIA shows coal mining 20% unionized in 2018 in table 20 of eia.gov/coal/annual/

        BLS shows 4% unionized in the broad category of "Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction" in 2019, 4th line of INDUSTRY section on p.7 of bls.gov/news.release/pdf/union2.pdf

 

WAGES

       BLS rightly shows few jobs in biomass and geothermal.

       BLS shows very few jobs in the solar and wind industries. USEER explains this by finding that most solar and wind jobs are in companies classed as construction or manufacturing, not solar or wind (p.41 usenergyjobs.org).

       Limited BLS solar jobs are heavily weighted to management (see appendix), so the average $90,000 pay is almost as high as oil+gas extraction, but they show $54,000 for field jobs, less than most field jobs in fossil fuels.

       Equally limited BLS data on wind jobs show them comparable to fossil fuel jobs and better than coal.

       Contractors in oil and gas fields have the lowest pay and greatest job losses.

 

The 75th percentile shows the types of senior jobs being lost, and the 25th percentile shows the low initial pay which people shifting into these new industries can expect.

 

Summary: BLS Data for May 2019

released 3/26/2020 https://bls.gov/oes/special.requests/oesm19in4.zip

Number of Workers

25th Percentile of Pay

Mean Annual Pay, 2080 Hours

75th Percentile of Pay

All Occupations Shown below, by Industry

665,650

48,000

76,000

93,000

Coal Mining

50,770

46,000

61,000

73,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

141,320

53,000

97,000

121,000

Petroleum+Coal Manuf.(Mostly Refineries)

112,200

46,000

76,000

96,000

Oil+Gas Field Support Contractors

349,280

37,000

59,000

66,000

Solar Electric Power Generation

2,980

48,000

90,000

110,000

Wind Electric Power Generation

6,200

51,000

82,000

98,000

Geothermal Electric Power Generation

1,060

56,000

77,000

95,000

Biomass Electric Power Generation

1,840

46,000

71,000

87,000

First 4 Occupations Shown in Appendix below, by Industry

 

Coal Mining

45,110

46,000

59,000

71,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

47,090

45,000

65,000

79,000

Petroleum+Coal Manuf.(Mostly Refineries)

73,500

45,000

66,000

85,000

Oil+Gas Field Support Contractors

263,070

36,000

50,000

59,000

Solar Electric Power Generation

1,060

37,000

54,000

65,000

Wind Electric Power Generation

3,530

49,000

66,000

81,000

Geothermal Electric Power Generation

750

57,000

76,000

94,000

Biomass Electric Power Generation

1,190

45,000

61,000

77,000

 

Two jobs which BLS has median pay for are:

$25/hr wind turbine technicians bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/wind-turbine-technicians.htm

$22/hr solar installers bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/solar-photovoltaic-installers.htm

 

Brookings analyzed occupational employment statistics to derive the following wage rates in clean energy. They include several other industries, such as electric contractors and manufacturers. Brookings shows average pay, but not number of workers, so it is hard to know how representative they are. https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/2019.04_metro_Clean-Energy-Jobs_Report_Muro-Tomer-Shivaran-Kane_updated.pdf

       $28/hr for clean energy production

       $26/hr for energy efficiency

       $27/hr for environmental management

 

Appendix: BLS Data for May 2019

released 3/26/2020 https://bls.gov/oes/special.requests/oesm19in4.zip

Number of Workers

25th Percentile of Pay

Mean Annual Pay, 2080 Hours

75th Percentile of Pay

All Occupations Shown below, by Industry

665,650

48,000

76,000

93,000

Coal Mining

50,770

46,000

61,000

73,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

141,320

53,000

97,000

121,000

Petroleum+Coal Manuf.(Mostly Refineries)

112,200

46,000

76,000

96,000

Oil+Gas Field Support Contractors

349,280

37,000

59,000

66,000

Solar Electric Power Generation

2,980

48,000

90,000

110,000

Wind Electric Power Generation

6,200

51,000

82,000

98,000

Geothermal Electric Power Generation

1,060

56,000

77,000

95,000

Biomass Electric Power Generation

1,840

46,000

71,000

87,000

Next 4 Occupations Shown below, by Industry

 

Coal Mining

45,110

46,000

59,000

71,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

47,090

45,000

65,000

79,000

Petroleum+Coal Manuf.(Mostly Refineries)

73,500

45,000

66,000

85,000

Oil+Gas Field Support Contractors

263,070

36,000

50,000

59,000

Solar Electric Power Generation

1,060

37,000

54,000

65,000

Wind Electric Power Generation

3,530

49,000

66,000

81,000

Geothermal Electric Power Generation

750

57,000

76,000

94,000

Biomass Electric Power Generation

1,190

45,000

61,000

77,000

Construction and Extraction Occupations

233,190

40,000

56,000

68,000

Coal Mining

30,170

46,000

59,000

71,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

20,540

42,000

65,000

79,000

Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing

8,440

38,000

61,000

84,000

Support Activities for Mining

172,500

36,000

50,000

59,000

Solar Electric Power Generation

770

34,000

51,000

62,000

Wind Electric Power Generation

650

41,000

57,000

73,000

Geothermal Electric Power Generation

60

57,000

70,000

78,000

Biomass Electric Power Generation

60

29,000

34,000

38,000

Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations

54,830

48,000

65,000

80,000

Coal Mining

8,130

48,000

62,000

74,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

5,580

47,000

66,000

82,000

Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing

9,920

47,000

70,000

91,000

Support Activities for Mining

27,760

39,000

54,000

64,000

Solar Electric Power Generation

220

41,000

58,000

72,000

Wind Electric Power Generation

2,560

48,000

64,000

78,000

Geothermal Electric Power Generation

270

59,000

74,000

92,000

Biomass Electric Power Generation

390

51,000

68,000

88,000

Production Occupations

77,760

52,000

70,000

85,000

Coal Mining

2,080

41,000

57,000

74,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

9,000

55,000

72,000

85,000

Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing

46,420

48,000

70,000

90,000

Support Activities for Mining

18,800

36,000

53,000

64,000

Solar Electric Power Generation

70

58,000

72,000

81,000

Wind Electric Power Generation

320

80,000

94,000

114,000

Geothermal Electric Power Generation

420

56,000

77,000

98,000

Biomass Electric Power Generation

650

45,000

62,000

76,000

Transportation and Material Moving Occupations

69,520

35,000

49,000

59,000

Coal Mining

4,730

40,000

56,000

67,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

11,970

41,000

59,000

73,000

Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing

8,720

32,000

46,000

54,000

Support Activities for Mining

44,010

36,000

47,000

54,000

Geothermal Electric Power Generation

0

31,000

43,000

50,000

Biomass Electric Power Generation

90

32,000

43,000

58,000

Architecture and Engineering Occupations

43,170

70,000

99,000

120,000

Coal Mining

1,190

63,000

83,000

100,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

18,480

87,000

135,000

166,000

Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing

10,250

81,000

112,000

135,000

Support Activities for Mining

12,090

62,000

105,000

128,000

Solar Electric Power Generation

310

68,000

99,000

120,000

Wind Electric Power Generation

460

74,000

100,000

123,000

Geothermal Electric Power Generation

90

63,000

79,000

97,000

Biomass Electric Power Generation

300

59,000

76,000

94,000

Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations

610

51,000

72,000

87,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

260

55,000

80,000

95,000

Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing

200

45,000

67,000

83,000

Support Activities for Mining

150

52,000

69,000

82,000

Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations

950

23,000

33,000

40,000

Coal Mining

130

25,000

39,000

52,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

260

20,000

29,000

36,000

Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing

200

25,000

35,000

40,000

Support Activities for Mining

360

21,000

29,000

33,000

Business and Financial Operations Occupations

38,100

59,000

84,000

102,000

Coal Mining

680

49,000

72,000

91,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

19,330

63,000

93,000

112,000

Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing

6,060

58,000

86,000

106,000

Support Activities for Mining

10,830

55,000

81,000

99,000

Solar Electric Power Generation

490

59,000

87,000

106,000

Wind Electric Power Generation

670

67,000

89,000

101,000

Biomass Electric Power Generation

40

59,000

84,000

100,000

Computer and Mathematical Occupations

13,700

66,000

93,000

116,000

Coal Mining

70

56,000

73,000

91,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

10,310

79,000

119,000

143,000

Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing

1,330

62,000

91,000

115,000

Support Activities for Mining

1,810

57,000

87,000

111,000

Solar Electric Power Generation

70

79,000

99,000

119,000

Wind Electric Power Generation

110

63,000

90,000

114,000

Farming, Fishing, and Forestry Occupations

70

26,000

40,000

50,000

Support Activities for Mining

70

26,000

40,000

50,000

Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations

160

23,000

32,000

35,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

60

24,000

32,000

37,000

Support Activities for Mining

100

22,000

32,000

34,000

Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations

170

50,000

74,000

86,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

40

66,000

104,000

122,000

Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing

90

46,000

69,000

87,000

Support Activities for Mining

40

38,000

47,000

51,000

Legal Occupations

3,770

58,000

115,000

147,000

Coal Mining

40

33,000

66,000

75,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

2,620

50,000

100,000

119,000

Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing

90

65,000

142,000

198,000

Support Activities for Mining

850

53,000

97,000

103,000

Solar Electric Power Generation

50

73,000

137,000

183,000

Wind Electric Power Generation

120

74,000

147,000

203,000

Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations

23,180

58,000

84,000

104,000

Coal Mining

490

52,000

72,000

90,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

8,960

68,000

120,000

152,000

Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing

4,560

56,000

79,000

98,000

Support Activities for Mining

9,010

40,000

71,000

91,000

Wind Electric Power Generation

80

66,000

87,000

100,000

Geothermal Electric Power Generation

40

56,000

75,000

88,000

Biomass Electric Power Generation

40

68,000

85,000

107,000

Management Occupations

44,730

93,000

141,000

169,000

Coal Mining

1,610

81,000

118,000

145,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

16,360

99,000

164,000

>208,000

Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing

7,210

95,000

141,000

169,000

Support Activities for Mining

18,050

85,000

134,000

164,000

Solar Electric Power Generation

600

100,000

159,000

200,000

Wind Electric Power Generation

660

99,000

151,000

183,000

Geothermal Electric Power Generation

70

100,000

123,000

150,000

Biomass Electric Power Generation

170

84,000

137,000

173,000

Office and Administrative Support Occupations

46,920

35,000

48,000

58,000

Coal Mining

1,230

29,000

41,000

50,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

14,300

32,000

48,000

59,000

Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing

6,480

34,000

48,000

58,000

Support Activities for Mining

24,140

32,000

44,000

52,000

Solar Electric Power Generation

150

42,000

53,000

65,000

Wind Electric Power Generation

490

38,000

53,000

63,000

Geothermal Electric Power Generation

40

45,000

56,000

67,000

Biomass Electric Power Generation

90

31,000

43,000

52,000

Protective Service Occupations

810

26,000

44,000

59,000

Coal Mining

140

23,000

38,000

54,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

240

28,000

42,000

52,000

Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing

170

30,000

59,000

89,000

Support Activities for Mining

260

22,000

37,000

41,000

Sales and Related Occupations

13,740

60,000

95,000

116,000

Coal Mining

60

56,000

92,000

105,000

Oil and Gas Extraction

2,980

63,000

101,000

128,000

Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing

2,050

54,000

88,000

105,000

Support Activities for Mining

8,440

53,000

86,000

107,000

Solar Electric Power Generation

170

46,000

84,000

107,000

Wind Electric Power Generation

40

88,000

117,000

145,000