Coal boosted US economic recovery: report

AMID the downturn in global coal markets, heavy income losses for coal companies and increasing environmental concern about the effects of burning fossil fuels, a report from the National Mining Association has found a silver lining in all the doom and gloom – coal exports.
Coal boosted US economic recovery: report Coal boosted US economic recovery: report Coal boosted US economic recovery: report Coal boosted US economic recovery: report Coal boosted US economic recovery: report

Courtesy QRC.

Staff Reporter

The report, commissioned by the NMA and produced by Ernst and Young, considers the economic contribution of coal exports to the US economy and hails them for “making significant contributions to America’s economic recovery and job creation”

The analysts found that the 107 million short tons of American coal exported in 2011 supported 141,270 high-wage jobs paying nearly 50% above industry averages.

Of these, 39,350 were “direct jobs” at mines, transportation companies and ports, and more than 100,000 “indirect jobs” were generated at businesses in a wide range of industries.

“While this activity is concentrated in states that produce coal for export or ship coal abroad from their ports, coal exports contribute to economies in other states through employment by suppliers of machinery and operating inputs,” the report said.

According to the report, "US Coal Exports: National and State Economic Contributions," these numbers increased to an estimated 168,430 jobs supported by the 125.7 million tons exported last year, a record volume. Each ton of coal exported supported 1320 jobs, the study said.

“The economic contribution of coal exports extends well beyond the activities conducted at mine sites and includes employment related to downstream transportation providers that move coal from mines to ports, as well as the port services that prepare and load the coal for shipment abroad, and other businesses that are supported by coal export activity. Each step in this process contributes economic activity to the U.S. economy,” the report said.

The report found that central Appalachian metallurgical coal exports, which made up 65% of total exports in 2011, were particularly valuable for job creation.

“The US has the world's largest supply of coal at a time when the rest of the world – from Germany to China – is using more coal to ensure affordable and reliable electricity and as an essential input in steelmaking," NMA president and CEO Hal Quinn said.

“This report confirms the valuable contributions that our economy derives from U.S. coal exports," Quinn said.

"These benefits include good jobs for American workers – from the mines to rail transport and port facilities – as well as new revenue for state and local governments pressed to fund essential services."

The report analyses each state’s individual contribution to production and export, whether that export be through its own waters or that of a nearby state.

Employment numbers generated, labor income and the type of coal exported were also considered.

The report found that the states that exported the greatest values of coal, benefited most in terms of jobs and wages. The top exporting states included Virginia, Louisiana and Maryland.