Total U.S. Coal Mining Jobs, in Thousands, 1985-2017. Graphic: The Atlantic

By Derek Thompson
6 June 2017 

(The Atlantic) – On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, claimed that the U.S. has created 50,000 jobs in the coal sector since the fourth quarter of 2016. The statistic carries an important message for the White House. Trump has brought extraordinary attention to the decline of coal jobs, for which he’s blamed Obama-imposed regulations. Coal’s immediate bounce-back would represent a major early win for a president who has made promises to revive the economy of the 1950s, when mining was more dominant.

But Pruitt’s statistic wasn’t just flagrantly incorrect. It’s being used to support a nonsensical argument that the United States should orient its global policy based on a sector employing 0.03 percent of the economy, as there are fewer coal mining workers than there are people employed at Carl's Jr. franchises or Disney World.

Quite simply, the coal sector has added about 1,000 jobs since October 2016—not 50,000. Coal could not have added 50,000 jobs in the last eight months, since that is essentially the size of the entire coal industry, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pruitt’s statistic would otherwise imply that entire coal mining industry started in October. (Perhaps he meant 50,000 total mining jobs, but the vast majority of those positions have nothing to do with coal jobs; indeed, natural gas-mining workers might even be replacing them.) [more]

The White House Exaggerated the Growth of Coal Jobs by About 5,000 Percent

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