US report identifies nuclear workforce trends

24 March 2020

The US nuclear power sector shed more than 2000 jobs last year, according to a newly released report by the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI). The sector employed a total of 60,916 workers across the country in 2019, which was over 3% less than in 2018, although employment in the nuclear fuel sector rose slightly.

The 2020 US Energy & Employment Report (USEER), prepared under a Memorandum of Understanding between NASEO and the EFI clean energy think-tank, identifies important trends and skill sets for the USA's energy workforce. The report was first published in 2016 and 2017 by the US Department of Energy. EFI and NASEO have since 2018 organised and implemented USEERs to provide continuity with the previous editions and to provide year-to-year comparisons.

The report is intended to inform policymakers, academic decision-makers and the private sector in developing integrated energy, security, economic development and workforce plans.

"This kind of integration is key to maximising the benefits of the nation’s abundant energy resources, rapid pace of energy innovation, and dynamic energy markets … Creating a single and consistent measure of employment across the entire US energy system is critical to that understanding," the two organisations said.

The 2020 USEER analyses five sectors of the US economy: fuels; energy efficiency; motor vehicles; electric power generation; and transmission, distribution and storage. Nuclear industry employment falls into two of those sectors - electric power generation (EPG) and fuels. EPG covers all utility and non-utility employment across electric generating technologies, including fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewable energy technologies. Also included in the employment totals for EPG are firms engaged in facility construction, turbine and other generation equipment manufacturing, operations and maintenance, and wholesale parts distribution for all generation technologies.

In 2019, the EPG sector totalled 896,830 jobs, an increase of more than 2% on 2018's figure. Employment increased in each sector, with the exception of nuclear. Nuclear sector employers expect its figure to grow by nearly 2% in 2020, the report found. This growth is being led by the professional services sector, which expects an almost 11% increase, and by wholesale trade, distribution and transport at nearly 10%. However, the utility sector - which accounts for almost 73% of nuclear jobs - expects continued contraction, it said.

Overall nuclear employment across both the EPG and fuels sectors totalled 70,323 jobs - 60,916 and 9,406, respectively. Jobs in the nuclear fuels sector grew by nearly 3% - 250 new positions - in 2019, with most of those being in professional business services. The survey found that across both sectors, 30.2% of employers found engineers/scientists the most difficult role to hire for, followed by management (23.4%), technician or mechanical support (21.4%) and electricians/construction workers (16.2%).

Researched and written by World Nuclear News