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U.S. Electric Power Industry Supports More Than 7 Million Jobs

The report also reinforces that the electric power industry underpins many other sectors of the economy

The electric power industry supports more than 7 million American jobs, equivalent to about 5 percent of all jobs in the United States, according to a detailed analysis of the role that electric companies play in the nation's labor force and economy.

M.J. Bradley & Associates (MJB&A) today released the report, Powering America: The Economic and Workforce Contributions of the U.S. Electric Power Industry. The analysis was conducted for the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the American Public Power Association (APPA), and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), and features employee profiles illustrating the high-quality jobs in the industry.

Specifically, the report finds that the electric power industry directly provides nearly 2.7 million jobs nationwide through its employees, contractors and supply chain, and investments. More than 4.4 million additional jobs are supported through the induced effects of these jobs.

The report also reinforces that the electric power industry underpins many other sectors of the economy, contributing $880 billion annually to U.S. GDP, or 5 percent of total GDP.

"The electric power industry is one of the great American success stories and provides high-quality jobs that empower our nation's economic growth. Behind every wall outlet or light switch, there is a dedicated workforce focused on powering the lives of millions of Americans who rely on electricity for nearly everything they do," said Michael J. Bradley, president and founder of M.J. Bradley & Associates. "Understanding the industry's value, economic contributions, and changing nature is crucial to policy decisions related to employment and economic growth."

Additional key findings from the report include:

  • Employment – About 1 in every 20 jobs in America depends on the electric power industry. Each job directly provided by the industry supports an additional 1.7 jobs in our communities.
  • Job Quality – The average job in the electric power industry pays twice the national median wage. In 2015, the median annual wage in the industry was $73,000.
  • Supporting Our Veterans – The electric power industry has a long history of hiring military veterans because they have the training and skills that match those required for technical, engineering, support, and leadership positions. Military veteran hiring accounted for more than 10 percent of new hires in the industry as of year-end 2014, the latest year for which data are available.
  • Infrastructure Investment –The significant annual investments by the electric power industry to build smarter energy infrastructure and to continue the transition to even cleaner electric generation sources are expected to exceed $100 billion annually for the next several years. MJB&A estimates that this level of investment provides more than 1.4 million jobs.

"Our industry is so vital to America's economy, supporting more than 7 million jobs," said EEI President Tom Kuhn. "We are proud to strengthen the economic vitality and social fabric of our communities through our industry's jobs and the taxes companies pay and generate at the state and local levels. Often, jobs in our industry fill a societal gap, helping to break the cycle of poverty in many communities. As our society continues to become more dependent on electricity, we are creating long-term solutions to address the need for a skilled, diverse workforce to meet the future demands of our customers."  

"The nation's more than 2,000 community-owned, not-for-profit public power utilities are proud to be a part of an industry that provides millions of jobs to hardworking Americans," said APPA President and CEO Sue Kelly. "Community-owned public power utilities provide local jobs that keep dollars in their communities, supporting families and representing a significant piece of our American economy."

NRECA CEO Jim Matheson also responded to the results of the report. "Affordable and reliable electricity is the heartbeat of the American economy and is essential to the nation's economic growth, As not-for-profits owned by the members we serve, our broader purpose is to empower local communities to thrive. Co-ops are proud to continue recruiting top-tier talent from local communities as we work to meet tomorrow's energy needs."

In preparing this report, MJB&A used official, government-collected data as a starting point for its economic impact analysis. The electric power industry jobs reported to the Bureau of Labor Statistics form the basis for modeled investment, supply chain, and induced jobs. The Economic Modeling Specialists International (Emsi) model was used to conduct this analysis. The Emsi model represents the flow of money in an economy, expanding upon a more traditional input-output approach to economic modeling. In addition to reporting out jobs, earnings, and sales multipliers, the Emsi model provides details on the demographic and occupational components of jobs, and includes more than 1,000 industry, government, household, and investment sectors.

A key difference between this report and other recent energy-related reports is the approach used to estimate the job impact numbers. This report is based on an economic impact study, which explores the downstream impacts of a job in a specific industry. Other studies use a census approach, by which total job estimates are developed using data self-reported by the targeted industry. A census is a count of all workers said to be related in one way or another to a given industry at any given time. It does not classify how workers are employed or where jobs are located along the supply chain. It also does not estimate an industry's broader economic impact.  

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