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Empire of the sun

Solar jobs are booming.

The number of people employed by the solar power industry in the U.S. surged 25 percent last year, to 260,000 workers, according to a count by the Solar Foundation, a pro-industry group. Twenty-five percent is huge. For comparison, the rest of the economy added jobs at a rate of 1.45 percent.

This stratospheric trend will probably start to level off this year: The Solar Foundation predicts the industry will add another 25,000 jobs in 2017. That’s about a 10 percent growth rate — a lot less than 25 percent, but still freaking impressive.

Solar workers get paid pretty well; installers earn a median wage of $26 per hour. But despite all those new paychecks, the cost of solar power continues to decline.

solar jobs
The Solar Foundation

A fat federal subsidy for solar power, worth 30 percent of solar investments, has boosted the industry, but it will begin to phase out in 2019 unless Congress decides to renew it.