Are Coal Jobs up by 50K Since Last Year? Not Exactly
By Louis Jacobson
On the one hand, coal is a high-carbon-emissions fuel that is at a disadvantage under the Paris agreement and could potentially benefit from the United States’ exit from the accord. On the other, some experts have said that the demise of coal as an energy source has less to do with emissions than with lost market share to a competing fossil fuel — natural gas — and technological improvements that have bolstered renewable energies such as wind and solar.
The coal industry has long chafed at the BLS’ definition of coal-sector jobs. Terry Headley, the director of communications for the American Coal Council, said that coal employment numbers compiled independently by states are typically much larger than what BLS has found, perhaps because many states use broader definitions of who should be counted.
For instance, Headley said, coal truck drivers — probably numbering several thousand nationally — are not broken out from the BLS data for “truck drivers.” The situation is similar for electricians, surveyors, mechanics, and equipment service technicians, he said.
In West Virginia alone, he said, state data for 2015 show 48,327 in the category of miners, mine support, and onsite processing staff. “If you look purely at the federal numbers you will only get about 12,000 for the state,” he said.
Additional comments from ACC on this subject are found in several other publications including this in the Daily Caller.