Which industry has more employees–coal or solar?

Grade level: 4th – 5th grades

Skills: Circle graph

Related environmental issues: Energy 

The renewable energy industry in the United States has grown tremendously over the decade and is now as big as the U.S. telecommunications industry.  The renewable energy industry employed about 777,000 people in 2016. The circle graph below shows the renewable energy jobs by renewable energy technology.


Screen Shot 2018-01-30 at 10.48.50 AM

  1. In what renewable energy technology sector did the largest number of workers work for in 2016?
  2. In what renewable energy technology sector did as much as one third of the workers work for?
  3. The coal industry employed 160,000 workers in 2016. Which had more workers, the coal industry or the solar technology industry?


Source: U.S. EDF (Environmental Defense Fund), 2017. IN DEMAND: Clean Energy, Sustainability and the New American Workforce


Answer Key

  1. Bioenergy
  2. Solar
  3. Solar technology sector : 777,000 ÷ 3 = 259,000   259,000 > 160,000