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Michigan Leads Electric Vehicle Jobs, but Lags in Sales

The state has the most clean energy jobs of any state in the Midwest, is fifth nationally for the growing industry and ranks second highest for hybrid and EV employment. However, it remains in the bottom 10 states for EV sales.

Michigan is leading the pack when it comes to clean energy employment.

With 123,983 clean energy jobs, Michigan has the most of any state in the Midwest and ranks fifth nationally in the growing industry, according to a Midwest Clean Jobs report released Tuesday, Sept. 19. Michigan also ranks second highest, behind California, for hybrid and electric vehicle employment despite being in the bottom 10 states for EV sales.

“All this shows that we’ve taken a lot of action, we’ve taken a lot of steps, we’ve made a lot of progress. This report really validates that we are going in the right direction, but I do want to accelerate our trajectory,” Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said at a press conference Tuesday at SEEL LLC, an energy efficiency company in Detroit.

California, Texas, New York and Florida are the top states for clean energy jobs, the report assembled by business group E2 and Evergreen Climate Innovation shows. The industry, which accounts for almost 3 percent of Michigan’s workforce, grew by nearly 4.6 percent in the state last year – twice as fast as the overall economy.

Clean energy employment includes work in energy efficiency, clean transportation, renewable energy, clean fuels and grid and storage industries. About half of Michigan’s clean energy jobs are in metro Detroit with Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties topping the list.

Michigan’s energy efficiency industry leads employment with about 75,000 workers manufacturing appliances, installing lighting, ventilation and air conditioning systems and upgrading buildings with advanced materials.

Coming in second is clean transportation employment.

More than 32,000 Michigan workers manufacture hybrid cars, electric vehicles and batteries, the analysis of employment data found. This sector added 4,000 jobs last year – a 14 percent growth led by electric vehicle-related jobs.

Gilchrist said these numbers show more people are getting involved “in this ecosystem.”

“Whether they’re producing electric vehicles, working in the battery plants or the supply chain of those vehicles or other components, this really is exciting” he said. “It shows that this sector is growing, and Michigan is going to be a leader here in this space for decades to come.”

Michigan, working to usher its auto legacy into an electric future, has been strategically trying to attract electric vehicle and battery investments in recent years.

Economic incentives helped land multi-billion-dollar projects from General Motors, Ford Motor Co., Detroit startup Our Next Energy, LG Energy and battery manufacturer Gotion that will create thousands of jobs. Michigan has secured $16.6 billion of electric vehicle projects since 2015.

“We’ve seen the supply chain grow here in our state through companies that have come in and made significant investments,” Gilchrist said.

This has been helped by the Strategic Outreach Attraction Reserve, a purse of incentive dollars created to lure big business to Michigan. The state poured more than $2 billion into the fund since late 2021; its balance last stood at $771 million.

Despite these efforts, most Michigan drivers aren’t buying EVs.

Michigan is among the 10 states with the lowest rates of electric vehicle adoption alongside North Dakota, West Virginia and Mississippi, according to a recent report from JD Power. It’s projected that California, the leading state for electric vehicle sales, will reach 94 percent market share by 2035 compared to Michigan’s 41 percent.

The state’s current market share is less than 1 percent with 33,100 EVs registered in 2022.

An estimated 1 million EVs will be sold in the United States this year, according to Cox Automotive, more than twice the volume sold in 2021. Although half of consumers are considering buying an EV, sales still only add up to 8 percent of new vehicles sold.

“The U.S. is being split into two camps when it comes to EV adoption: those states who’ve been aggressive about offering incentives and building infrastructure to support EVs and those that have not,” the JD Power report says.

Michigan is currently trying to expand its EV infrastructure with plans to generate 100,000 chargers by 2030. The state will also spend $110 million of federal funds to build more charging stations over the next five years.

Momentum in the clean energy sector will likely speed up due to last year’s Inflation Reduction Act which funneled $750 billion into climate change efforts, lowering health care costs and tackling the federal deficit. It’s predicted the IRA will generate 17,000 jobs a year in Michigan over a decade.

©2023 Advance Local Media LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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