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.