With more than 85,000 clean energy workers, Washington state ranked 13th for clean energy employment at the onset of 2020, prior to the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.

And given the proven growth potential, Washington’s clean energy economy could hold the key to a resilient economic recovery, according to a newly released report.

According to the “Clean Jobs Washington 2020” report by E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), the CleanTech Alliance, Low Carbon Prosperity Institute, and Renewable Northwest, 85,035 Washingtonians worked in energy efficiency, solar, wind, clean energy storage, clean vehicles, and other clean energy occupations at the end of 2019. In 2019, Washington’s clean energy industries provided more than 11 times more jobs than the fossil fuel industry and more than 55 percent of employment across the energy sector.

However, like many other sectors, Washington’s clean energy economy has been derailed by the economic impacts of COVID-19. While recent months have brought some jobs back, more than 17,000 clean energy workers remained out of work since the pandemic began in March. The losses represent more than 19 percent of the sector’s total workforce, according to E2’s latest monthly analysis of unemployment data.

According to the report, clean energy-focused stimulus efforts could put these workers back to work and play a critical role in Washington state’s economic recovery.

“With the economic impacts from COVID-19 driving significant unemployment across Washington state, investments in the clean energy sector have proven potential to stimulate a recovery. With a focus on smart clean energy policy, lawmakers have the opportunity to generate thousands of new clean energy jobs and millions of dollars in investment to rebuild and strengthen our economy for the long haul,” said Zach Amittay, Washington advocate of E2, in a prepared statement.