L.A.’s solar power industry grew by 11 percent in 2016 over 2015, but dropped to second place for most solar-related jobs in the nation’s metropolitan areas, according to a report issued Tuesday by the Solar Foundation, a Washington D.C. nonprofit dedicated to promoting the solar power industry.

The report found that the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metro area added 2,159 jobs in 2016 over 2015 for a total of 23,622 jobs across all aspects of the solar power industry, including solar panel manufacturing, distribution and installation, as well as development of major solar power farms.

Los Angeles County itself remained the single largest county for solar industry jobs, with 16,429 in 2016, up 8.5 percent from 2015. L.A. County, is by far the largest county in the nation in population, with more than 10.1 million residents as of last July 1, according to the U.S. Census.

The report only gave nationwide rankings for metro areas. The L.A. metro area’s 11 percent growth rate paled in comparison to the Bay Area, which added more than 10,000 solar power industry jobs over the past year for a growth rate of 67 percent. With a new total of 26,056 jobs, the Bay Area leapfrogged L.A. to take over the No. 1 spot. Rounding out the top five: Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.; San Diego-Carlsbad; and New York City-Newark, N.J.

Nationwide, the number of solar power industry jobs grew 25 percent to 260,000, and California alone accounted for 100,060 of those jobs, or 38 percent. The report also found a total of 8,600 solar industry companies nationwide generated more than $62 billion in direct sales and more than $50 billion in direct salaries, wages and benefits. The report also found the median wage for solar panel installers was $26 an hour.

“America’s solar energy boom adds tens of billions of dollars to our economy each year, all while providing an affordable, reliable, and local energy source,” Andrea Luecke, president of the Solar Foundation, said in a statement.

The Solar Jobs Census 2016 was part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s U.S. Energy and Employment Report data collection effort that included phone calls and emails to energy establishments in the U.S. last fall, resulting in a total of 3,888 completed surveys.

Public policy and energy reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.

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