The entire coal industry now has fewer jobs than Arby’s

Flanked by cabinet members and coal miners, President Trump introduced and signed an executive order on March 28, that revokes Obama-era climate regulations and puts “an end to the war on coal,” — he said…

Trump was announcing the rollback of several Obama-era environmental regulations that would have affected industries such as coal mining. Trump has repeatedly claimed that over-regulation has led to a decline in coal-industry jobs…

Experts in the industry have already pointed out, repeatedly, that the coal jobs are extremely unlikely to come back. The plight of the coal industry is more a function of changing energy markets and increased demand for natural gas than anything else.

Another largely overlooked point about coal jobs is that there just aren’t that many of them relative to other industries. There are various estimates of coal-sector employment, but according to the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns program, which allows for detailed comparisons with many other industries, the coal industry employed 76,572 people in 2014, the latest year for which data is available.

That number includes not just miners but also office workers, sales staff and all of the other individuals who work at coal-mining companies.

Although 76,000 might seem like a large number, consider that similar numbers of people are employed by, say, the bowling (69,088) and skiing (75,036) industries. Other dwindling industries, such as travel agencies (99,888 people), employ considerably more. Used-car dealerships provide 138,000 jobs. Theme parks provide nearly 144,000. Carwash employment tops 150,000…

If anything the numbers above over-estimate the jobs impact of coal relative to other industries. Since 2014 the coal industry has shrunk further according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to 50,300 employees as of February 2017.

The point isn’t that coal jobs don’t matter — they matter to the people who have them and to the communities they support, especially as they typically pay far more than do jobs in the retail and service industries, But if you’re looking to make a meaningful increase in the number of jobs available to U.S. workers, bringing back coal jobs isn’t going to do it…

Oh yeah. Arby’s has about 74,000 employees.

5 thoughts on “The entire coal industry now has fewer jobs than Arby’s

  1. Joe Fission says:

    “After the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor meltdown in Pennsylvania in 1979, regulators moved to overhaul safety requirements for nuclear power plants. This led to the temporary closure of some older nuclear power plants governed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) when they couldn’t meet the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) newly tightened standards. Now, Carnegie Mellon assistant professor of economics and public policy Edson Severnini says those closures may have caused reduced birth weight in children in the area at the time, due to pollution exposure from the increased reliance on coal-burning power plants. The sudden removal of nuclear power, which doesn’t emit any greenhouse gases, led to a ramp-up in the amount of power being provided by nearby coal plants, Severnini wrote. That led to increases in particle pollution in areas adjacent to coal power plants, measured by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in total suspended particulates (TSP).”

    • Clean Coal™ says:

      The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has studied the effects of coal-fired power plant emissions on premature mortality, nonfatal heart attacks, hospital and emergency room visits, acute bronchitis, upper and lower respiratory symptoms, aggravated asthma, and lost work days or school absences. A new study details the public health benefits of cutting such emissions on a previously unexplored area: fetal health. The study is based on a unique empirical setting, in which a power plant located on the border between two states has polluted the downwind state for years with its pollution spillovers scientifically proven by the downwind state and also by the federal government. The study titled “The Impact of Prenatal Exposure to Power Plant Emissions on Birth Weight: Evidence from a Pennsylvania Power Plant Located Upwind of New Jersey” will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management and appeared online today @

  2. Molly Maguire says:

    In the drive to reduce coal use because of the harm that carbon emissions cause, it’s easy to dismiss the the pain of coal miners—especially when the US coal industry directly employs a relatively small number of people.
    But while the industry as a whole isn’t that large, job losses in the coal industry have an outsize effect, devastating coal towns (partly via multiplying effects – see link). That’s because coal workers tend to be concentrated in small areas, around mines. Half of coal miners work in just 25 counties, according to an analysis of the latest US Energy Information Administration data. Those counties are in nine states: Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming.”

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