Trump’s Solar Tariffs Cost Almost 20,000 Jobs

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

President Obama's last year in office was a record year for solar industry job growth, but things haven't been quite the same since Trump took a dump on the industry by imposing tariffs on foreign solar panels for no substantiated reason.

After declaring that foreign solar panels somehow pose a threat to "national security," Trump imposed tariffs as high as 30 percent on foreign panels and that has cost the industry nearly 20,000 jobs over the past two years according to the Department of Labor.

From Forbes:

[Solar] energy jobs have stagnated and dipped for two consecutive years since the Department of Energy’s initial report, with a loss of 10,000 jobs in 2017 followed by a further 8,000 in 2018. Although some job losses were foreseen as a result of project finalizations in several states, the biggest contributing factor was President Trump’s tariffs on solar panels . The first shot fired in what would become a wide-ranging trade war with China in 2018, the U.S.’ decision to add a 30% tariff on foreign-produced solar panels had a negative effect on its domestic solar industry, which heavily relies on cheap imports. [...]

The months immediately preceding the application of the tariffs saw solar panel imports explode as foreign manufacturers and U.S. developers alike looked to get ahead of any potential problems. Despite their future-proofing attempts, the growing uncertainty created by the tariffs led to many developers canceling and freezing billions of dollars of investments and projects.

To put this into perspective, the coal mining industry only employed 53,000 people in 2018 so this would be like Trump destroying more than a third of all coal mining jobs.

Republicans liked to say that President Obama was engaged in a "war on coal" but no policy his administration implemented led to anywhere near the amount of lost jobs that Trump's policies have destroyed. It would actually be far more fair to say Trump is engaged in a "war on solar" than it was to say President Obama waged a "war on coal."

And this doesn't even stem from environmental or regulatory policy or even national security policy. Trump may have cited "national security" to justify his tariffs, but he more or less imposed them on a whim. Imposing these tariffs did not save the environment from smog or reduce premature deaths due to exposure. There's no substantive policy reason for killing nearly 20,000 jobs in the solar power industry.

  • Draxiar

    Fuck coal…it’s time has long since passed and that fact is catching up with it. I couldn’t be happier about it.

  • muselet

    Imported photovoltaic panels present even less of a threat to national security than do German cars.

    This is Donald Trump making policy based on his personal likes and dislikes. That’s not how government is supposed to run.


  • waspuppet

    If Donald Trump hadn’t heard of it by 1972, he doesn’t think it’s important and doesn’t need to exist.

  • katanahamon

    Ok, it’s way past time to stop this Administration from separating kids from their families. Axios is reporting that sexual abuse of kids in custody has soared. This is..not at all what America should be about. It’s disgusting, perverted, and above all, completely unnecessary. Although, our president is a sexual predator, I’m sure he delights in the idea of brown children being victimized. Come on Dems, get the press out about this..we can’t allow this to continue, and we must prosecute all those responsible for this horrific practice. This is Republican sanctioned child sexual abuse.

  • katanahamon

    Sure there are his oil, gas and coal cronies, destroy something good for the planet and own the libs. It’s a win, win, win.

    • And it was the opposite of what Pres. Obama did.