Photo by Anne Donnarumma, Dreamstime.
Utility workers respond to a storm in Louisiana.

Job Security: How Did Utilities Perform Through the Pandemic?

March 29, 2023
U.S. energy jobs were less impacted and more resilient compared to other industries.

A survey based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics over the last 20 years through the Covid-19 pandemic found that utilities were among the most secure jobs for workers over that period.

The study, undertaken by Lensa, found that from March 2020 through March 2021, employment at utilities fell by only 0.75 percent over one year.

According to the BLS’ National Current Employment Statistics survey, a number of workers had left utilities in 2020, with 547,300 in March 2020 and 542,000 by November 2020.

Transportation and warehousing, which includes moving cargo and passengers as well as the storage of goods, increased by 3.5% over the same time period, putting that sector in first place for most secure industry during the pandemic.

Federal government employment came in second, with a growth of .38% over the same time period.

Utilities also fared well at retaining employees during the Great Recession (December 2007 through June 2009), with employment growth of .82% over that period.

According to a U.S. Department of Energy employment and jobs report, unemployment hit a peak of 14.8 percent in April 2020, the highest since data collection began in 1948. The energy industry remained at 10% below pre-Covid levels during the last quarter of 2020, having lost about 840,000 workers since the end of 2019. 

Even so, U.S. energy jobs were less impacted and more resilient compared to other industries, according to the DOE.

In 2021, energy sector jobs rebounded, growing at a 4% rate that outpaced the 2.8% growth experienced by the economy across job categories. For its purposes, the DOE considers energy sector jobs across power generation; transmission and distribution; fuels; energy efficiency; and motor vehicles.

“All sectors, except for fuels, experienced net positive growth in 2021. Jobs in clean energy industries drove increases, especially in solar, wind, and electric vehicles,” according to the 2022 DOE USEER.

The energy sector added more than 300,000 jobs in 2021, increasing from 7.5 million total energy jobs in 2020 to more than 7.8 million in 2021.

The transmission and distribution sector saw an increase of 21,460 jobs over the same period. Batteries for grid storage and electric vehicles added 2,949 jobs, growing 4.4%.

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