>> The US labor market is booming with an unemployment rate at a 17-year low and wages starting to finally push higher. But a report released Wednesday showed the solar industry is sitting out of the hiring boom despite promises alternative energy would be a middle class job creator. That's the first annual drop since the Solar Foundation started keeping records seven years ago.
Reuters Reporter Nichola Groom says, the drop in hiring reflects the overall fall off from record US demand the year before.>> 2016 was a record year for solar installations in part, because there was a federal tax credit that everyone was expecting to end at the end of 2016.
So developers were rushing to get their projects done that year and it was a particularly huge year. So 2017 was naturally a slower year, so that meant fewer jobs in solar and that was on the utility scale side. On the residential solar side, incentives have become less lucrative in big solar states like California and Massachusetts.
So fewer people are putting rooftop panels on their houses than they were in prior years.>> Other factors, sending solar workers to the unemployment line. An end to SolarCity's aggressive expansion after being acquired by Elon Musk's Tesla. And worries about tarriffs on cheap foreign-made panels also kept employers on edge.
With the Trump administration eventually slapping a 30% tax on solar panel imports, employment in the sector according to industry insiders likely to remain under pressure until the impact of the tariffs are fully felt sometime next year.