The Reality of Coal Mining Jobs

Sightline Daily, November 29, 2012
By Eric de Place

Think about coal miners and you probably envision old Americana images: soot-blackened union guys with picks slung over their shoulders. But the truth is, modern-day coal mining is highly mechanized and it employs relatively few workers, many of them non-union.

Consider the coal companies in the Powder River Basin that extract nearly 500 million tons of coal each year with just 7,000 workers. That’s nearly half of all the coal mined in the US each year and it works out to roughly

Think about coal miners and you probably envision old Americana images: soot-blackened union guys with picks slung over their shoulders. But the truth is, modern-day coal mining is highly mechanized and it employs relatively few workers, many of them non-union.

Consider the coal companies in the Powder River Basin that extract nearly 500 million tons of coal each year with just 7,000 workers. That’s nearly half of all the coal mined in the US each year and it works out to roughly 66,000 tons of coal for each worker, on average. It’s an astonishing display of the industrial efficiency deployed in strip mining-like techniques. Yet it also means that coal mining is a poor strategy to create jobs.

In fact, as economists at the University of Massachusetts’ Political Economy and Research Institute have shown, it’s hard to make a worse jobs investment than coal.

Nearly any other infrastructure investment produces more jobs than coal, even when you factor in the indirect jobs and other secondary jobs. It just doesn’t stack up.

Read more and see graphs…

About coalfreegorge

Coal is rearing its head again the Columbia Gorge. The new threat comes in the form of proposals to export coal from Wyoming to coal-fired power plants in China. The coal would be transported via uncovered rail cars through the Columbia Gorge. Many Columbia Gorge Communities in Oregon and Washington support a coal-free world, beginning at home, in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge, recognizing the importance of people determining what materials are allowable for transport through their communities and watersheds. This blog exists to communicate and advocate for the public interest in issues pertaining to coal transport in the Columbia River Gorge, providing an online outlet for honest discussion and information. To inform and unite local citizens about the damaging effects of coal transport through our communities. To endorse positive and considerate dialogue with the aim of mutual understanding among diverse parties. CLEAN AIR HEALTHY COMMUNITIES NO COAL EXPORTS STOP COAL IN ITS TRACKS
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