During the presidential campaign this fall, there was a lot of talk about a “war on coal.” Coal miners held rallies for Mitt Romney, and some coal companies announced layoffs that they blamed on President Obama’s energy policies and regulations.
But the most recent data released from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that coal mining employment has been fairly steady for the past few months. Last month, there were 82,000 employed coal miners (in the seasonally-adjusted data). In November, there were 83,000.
But the data also shows a slight decline among coal-mining employment in the past year. In January 2012, there were 89,700 coal miners (seasonally-adjusted). That’s an 8 percent decline…not huge, but something.
It’s also worth noting that the BLS data doesn’t indicate where the coal miners are employed. In November 2011, data and Congressional testimony showed that Appalachian coal mining employment was at a 14-year high. But over the past year, there have been significant layoffs in Kentucky coal mines–most recently, Alpha Natural Resources’ layoffs of 200 miners last month. The coal industry outlook is stronger in the Powder River Basin.