From a blog post by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Wisconsin’s leadership in installing solar power compared with other Midwest states has made this source of alternative energy a bright spot on the employment front.

That’s the finding of the National Solar Jobs Census report, which ranks fifth in the nation in the number of jobs linked to solar energy.

The census was conducted by The Solar Foundation and Green LMI Consulting with technical assistance from Cornell University.

The census found Wisconsin has 2,885 solar jobs at contractors installing solar panels, as well as wholesalers and manufacturers. Wisconsin trails California, Pennsylvania, Texas and Michigan.

The census is also forecasting job growth of 9%, or about 250 jobs, at Wisconsin solar employers, in 2011.

“Over the next 12 months, over 50% of solar firms expect to add jobs, while only 2% expect to cut workers,” the report said.

“This is the first time anyone has tried to quantify solar jobs along the entire value chain by speaking directly with employers or projected with any certainty solar job growth over the next 12 months,” said Andrea Luecke, acting executive director of The Solar Foundation. “The fact that a national census is needed to examine the size and nature of the workforce signals that the solar industry is having a substantial and positive impact on the U.S. Economy.”

Luecke joined the Solar Foundation this year after serving as program manager for the Milwaukee Shines solar initiative. The report was released locally by the environmental group Wisconsin Environment and Planet Earth Solar of La Crosse.