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Employment Focus: Coal Mining Jobs

Coal mining jobs receive a large share of the media’s attention. Christian Zimmermann examined the industry’s size and scope over the past 20+ years using FRED. Here’s what he found:
  • Of the 25 U.S. states that mine coal, 10 have only a handful of mines.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t separate coal mining from other mining activities due to its small size.
  • Precise data exist for only 3 states: Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Wyoming. Employment trended down in Pennsylvania and Kentucky, whose coal has a much higher sulfur dioxide content, which is costly to remove. Wyoming had a recent uptick in coal mining jobs, except for a dip in 2016.
  • The boom in shale gas extraction and the lower cost of natural gas and other alternative fuels has made the coal industry less competitive.