Terry Headley, MBA, MA, is a researcher and communications veteran with more than two decades of experience working in the coal industry and in mass communications. He currently serves as communications director of the American Coal Council.
Dr. Roger Bezdek is president of MISI in Washington, D.C. He has over 30 years’ experience in the energy, utility, environmental, and regulatory areas, serving in private industry, academia, and government. He has served as senior adviser in the U.S. Treasury Department, U.S. energy delegate to EU and NATO, and as a consultant to the White House, UN, government agencies, and numerous corporations and organizations.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimate that the number of jobs in the U.S. coal industry currently totals about 53,000. This paper utilizes a combination of existing data from various government and industry sources and original research to derive a more accurate estimate of the current coal-dependent employment in the U.S. — taking into account the coal industry's entire profile from mine development and construction, through operations, maintenance, product transportation, and end use.
We estimate that the number of coal-dependent jobs is much larger than generally realized — as much as eight times larger, and totals approximately 420,000. We note that many of these jobs are concentrated in specific local areas where they comprise some of the highest paying jobs available and are critically important to these areas. Thus, the U.S. coal industry remains a major driver of the nation's economy and employment.
We discuss the industry job classification issues and the socio-economic factors that have fundamentally shifted much employment in the industry away from production to support services and away from direct employment to contractor, outsourced, and support roles.