U.S. Coal and the U.S. Economy

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Coal Powers the U.S. Economy

Coal mining provides jobs for the long-term.

  • According to the National Mining Association, coal mining will need 50,000 new employees over the next 10 years, because of increasing demand for coal and retiring coal workers.1
  • Surface mining alone provides about 60,000 good jobs in Appalachia.2

Coal mining jobs fuel other jobs.

  • For every coal mining job, an additional 3.5 jobs are created elsewhere in the economy.3
  • In other words, coal mining keeps about 500,000 people – including an estimated 134,000 coal miners – on the job and earning a paycheck, so they can support themselves and their families.4

Coal mining jobs are well paid.

  • The average mining wage is more than $66,000 per year, approximately 57 percent higher than the average wage for other industrial jobs.5
  • U.S. coal mining generated $8.1 billion in personal income and payroll taxes in 20076 – and billions more in property and other taxes – which are ultimately returned to taxpayers through vital government services such as K-12 education.

Surface mining is an economic driver.

  • About 70 percent of U.S. coal production is mined using surface mining methods.
  • The National Mining Association estimates the direct value of surface mining activity at more than $5 billion.  Billions more come from the purchase of mining equipment, costs for coal transportation, use of engineers and consultants, and tax payments to government.7

Coal is abundant and affordable.

  • Coal supplies half the electricity consumed by Americans.8
  • Surface mining operations alone provide enough energy to power more than 25 million American homes.9
  • Electricity from coals costs Americans about 6 cents per kilowatt/hour, among the lowest electricity rates in industrialized nations.10 The national average price of electricity from all fuel sources is nearly 10 cents per kilowatt/hour.

Surface mining makes economic sense.

  • Surface mining is safer and more efficient than underground mining.
  • Surface mining has created much needed level land in Appalachia, while preserving the natural beauty of our mountains.
  • Today, communities benefit from commercial developments such as shopping malls, airports and recreational facilities – all built as part of highly regulated, government-approved restoration and reclamation plans – leading to a higher quality of life and greater economic diversity and prosperity in the region.

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* The National Mining Association compiles and analyzes data from a variety of official sources, including the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Energy Energy Information Administration (EIA), and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), among other U.S. and international agencies.

1 National Mining Association. Fast Facts about Coal.
2 National Mining Association. Mountaintop Mining Fact Book (p.2)
3 National Mining Association. Fast Facts about Coal.
4 MSHA 2007 employment (using EIA surface & underground ratios) Multiplier (3.5 avg.) from NMA Economic Contributions study (2007) Note - Employment numbers include contractors and all prep plant workers.
5 National Mining Association. Profile of the U.S. Coal Miner.
6 National Mining Association. The Economic Contributions of U.S. Mining, 2007. pg 24. Moore Economics , Prepared for the National Mining Association
7 National Mining Association. Mountaintop Mining Factbook. (pg.2)
8 National Mining Association, Fast Facts about Coal
9 National Mining Association. Mountaintop Mining Fact Book (p.2)
10 Energy Information Administration, March 2008, Cost per kWh & Percent of Coal Generation.