Blog Posts > Coal Employment (Updated)
June 6, 2012

Coal Employment (Updated)

As we discussed in a previous post, coal mining employment has risen over the last three years. Today, Workforce WV released job figures for the fourth quarter of 2011 and the annual average of 2011. Included in this release is coal mining employment. The two charts below use this new data to update our previous post on recent coal mining employment.

As the chart shows, coal mining employment rose by 2,487 from the first quarter of 2009 to the last quarter of 2011. While coal mining employment is expected to drop in 2012 due to a significant drop in coal demand, the figures clearly show that coal mining employment rose during a time when their was a declared “war on coal” from the industry.

This chart from BLS shows monthly employment in mining and logging, which includes coal mining employment (coal mining employment is only available by quarter). At its peak in January of 2012, about 34,900 folks where employed in these industries (coal mining, gas and oil drilling, and logging). In May, this number dropped to 32,600 – a difference of about 2,300. Employment in gas and oil extraction has been rising rapidly lately (from 5, 570 in 2011-Q1 to 6,288 in 2011-Q4). Depending on gains in natural gas extraction since 2012, it hard to tell how much is attributed to layoffs in the coal industry.  Assuming that natural gas extraction employment remained steady, than most of this employment decline is probably due to the recent layoffs in the coal mining sector. However, even a decline of 2,300 would not take coal employment back to pre-2009 levels.

Looking over the last two decades, annual coal mining employment in 2011 was about 25,000. This was higher than at any time since 1992, when coal employment was 26,600. Both of these figures include coal support activities.

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