The clean energy sector shed around 307,000 jobs last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to research released Monday by advocacy group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), with the sector now employing around 3 million Americans.

The report found that at one stage last year, approximately 600,000 clean energy jobs had been lost due to the effects of COVID-19, although the sector recovered after May to cut that shortfall roughly in half. Wind energy and the manufacturing of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles ended the year having added about 2,000 and 12,200 jobs respectively. While energy efficiency saw the greatest drop in jobs at 11% compared to the previous year.

E2 noted that clean energy jobs grew 11% since May, compared to the less than 9% growth in the national workforce during the same period. And federal investment could prompt a strong rebound in 2021, the report said, especially if Congress passes President Joe Biden's American Jobs Plan.

The research from E2, its sixth annual report on the state of clean energy jobs in the United States, gave reason for optimism in the sector.

The analysis is based on preliminary employment data collected and analyzed by BW Research Partnership for the 2021 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER), which analyzes data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. The 2021 USEER also relies on a unique supplemental survey of 35,000 business representatives across the U.S.

It notes that while the number of clean energy jobs decreased in 2020, the sector remains a much bigger source of employment than fossil fuels nationwide, which currently provides around 1 million jobs. Researchers also said there are more people employed in clean energy than work as teachers, realtors, farmers and bankers.

Read the full article about clean energy jobs by Chris Teale at Smart Cities Dive.