The U.S. "clean energy" sector was hit by 447,208 new unemployment filings last month, according to new analysis of Department of Labor data.
Published on Wednesday, the analysis — released by Environmental Entrepreneurs, the American Council on Renewable Energy, E4TheFuture, and BW Research Partnership — paints a stark picture for the industry and reflects the significant impact that the coronavirus pandemic is having on the overall U.S. economy.
Clean energy job losses in April were far greater than March, when 147,139 claims were made. Total claims for March and April amount to 594,347, or 17.8% of the sector's workforce.
For the purposes of the analysis, the term "clean energy" encompasses a range of areas: energy efficiency; renewables; grid and storage; and "clean" vehicles and fuels.
Overall, April saw a little over 310,000 people working in energy efficiency file for unemployment, while there were 71,835 job losses in renewables. California was the worst hit state, losing 77,860 clean energy jobs last month.
Looking ahead, the report forecasts more job losses unless the U.S. administration and Congress "take quick and substantive action to support the clean energy industry and its workers."
If no action is taken, it's projected that 850,000 people in the sector will have filed for unemployment by June 30.
"The economic data from April shows that the job losses from the COVID-19 pandemic are worse than expected," Phil Jordan, vice president and principal at BW Research Partnership, said in a statement.
"Unemployment claims increased dramatically across many key segments of the clean energy sector, such as construction and manufacturing," Jordan added. "And the data does not suggest that we have yet to hit the bottom."
Around the world, firms working in sectors such as renewable energy are having to adapt to the new challenges posed by Covid-19.
In April, Danish business Vestas suspended guidance for 2020, with the Aarhus-headquartered firm noting that the global spread of Covid-19 and national measures taken to contain it had caused disruptions to installations, manufacturing and its supply chain.