It turns out that solar isn’t just the way to go for power needs, but for jobs as well. While “green jobs” may not be a huge political buzz word this year, it should be – because the solar power jobs sector grew 20 times faster than any other sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, the number of solar jobs has surpassed the number of coal mining jobs – a hopeful sign for both alternative energy and job growth.

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The number of solar jobs has reached over 173,000 and is fast approaching the total number of jobs in oil and gas extraction. Considering oil workersare being laid off under the pressure of decreasing gas prices, this is a good sign for green power. Oilfield service company Schlumberger, for instance, recently laid off 9,000 people.

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In an article for CNN Money, John Roberts, a recently laid off crew van driver, said, “They said things aren’t good, that oil prices are low, and they aren’t going to be drilling as many wells. They gave me 24 hours to leave my house.” Solar jobs have grown 20 percent per year over the last two years – over 80,000 jobs since 2010. And that’s with solar power being a relatively small piece of the power market. Once we begin using solar power to its potential, which, according to Environment America, could provide more than enough power for everyone and then some, the job potential will only increase as well.

Via Treehugger

Photos by Flickr/Mike Baker and U.S. Army Environmental Command