Net-Zero NorthWest Workforce Analysis

In November 2023, the Clean Energy Transition Institute (CETI), an independent, nonpartisan research and analysis nonprofit dedicated to accelerating an equitable clean energy transition in the Northwest, released the Net-Zero Northwest (NZNW) workforce analysis. The workforce analysis examined jobs created and displaced in the Northwest in the building, fuels, electricity, and transportation sectors.  

In April 2024, CETI added state-specific results to the analysis, and here are some of the highlights of this study.  

All four states, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and Washington, are making significant strides in reducing their carbon footprint. Due to this, the analysis shows that there is a growth in the net job growth in the workforce by 2030 in the specific sectors examined. This promising outlook underscores the potential for a robust and thriving clean energy sector in the Northwest, bringing numerous economic and environmental benefits.  

Electricity – As renewables emerge as a source of electricity generation, there is a net growth in the electricity sector workforce. By using clean energy to decarbonize our energy demand and meet our decarbonization goals, jobs related to renewable electricity capacity, distribution, and transmission will experience significant growth by 2030. Montana, in particular, is expected to see higher growth in this sector due to its potential to generate more energy using land-based wind in the colder seasons than the other three states, creating a unique opportunity for wind energy-related jobs.      

Fuels – To achieve President Biden’s goal of a net-zero carbon economy by 2050, the country must find innovative ways to de-carbonize energy-intensive sectors such as transportation and buildings. Hydrogen is a great way to accomplish this, but its production requires energy that can come from multiple sources (wind, solar, hydropower, biomass, and geothermal energy). In that sense, the analysis projects job growth in the clean fuel subsector (hydrogen and biofuels) in Idaho and Washington due to its early development and in Montana for its high-quality wind resources. In Oregon, this sector will be developed later than in the other states analyzed, and it will experience lower job growth due to this.  

Buildings – Due to effortsto improve energy efficiency and decarbonize buildings, all four states in the analysis will experience employment growth ranging from 21% to 27% from 2021 to 2030.  

Transportation – Due to the transition from Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles to Electric Vehicles (EV), by 2030, the projection of jobs in this sector will decrease in all of the states analyzed. However, between 2021 and 2025, there will be an increase in jobs in the transportation sector due to the high stock of both ICE and EV vehicles on the road.  

Job vs. Careers – The report shows that despite the regions’ net job growth, half of the clean energy jobs in 2030 will be in the lowest wage tier. To mitigate this, companies and businesses can use strategies to promote good-paying jobs that support livable wages and economic prosperity. Such strategies include partnering with labor unions, entering project labor agreements, and imposing prevailing wage requirements. The IRA bonus tax credit links prevailing wage and registered apprenticeship requirements to the level of clean energy tax incentives available. The Career Connect Washington network includes employers, labor, government, education, and community leaders delivering academic and work-based experiences that provide young people with clear post-secondary pathways to careers in Washington’s high-growth career sectors.

If you are interested in learning more about this program, please contact CleanTech Alliance Workforce Specialist benjamin@cleantechalliance.org