WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said the number of jobs created in the U.S. solar power sector suggests it is an "exciting time" for the industry.
A report published by The Solar Foundation, a 37-year-old non-profit focused on solar power, said there were 142,698 people in the United States employed in the solar industry as of November, a 19.9 percent increase since September 2012.
"This is an exciting time for the solar industry in the United States, made even more clear by the latest industry job figures," Moniz said in a statement issued Monday after the report was released.
The report said the employment rate in the U.S. solar industry grew 10 times faster than the national average. The Solar Foundation's census report for 2013 finds 77 percent of the jobs reported in the sector since September 2012 were new jobs. Employment in the sector is expected to grow by 15.6 percent during the next 12 months.
In a December statement, the Energy Department said 930 megawatts of solar power was added to the U.S. grid during the second quarter of 2013, up 20 percent from the previous quarter. Combined, installed solar capacity in the United States provides 10 gigawatts of energy.
Critics of President Obama's "all-of-the-above" energy strategy point to the bankruptcy of federally backed solar companies as a reason for concern.