Coal mining has powered the global industry since there was an industry to speak of, and it’s still one of the most significant energy sectors in the world. Due to overall demand, the coal mining industry also became a significant employment source for millions of people.

However, this situation can change in the blink of an eye. As 2020 came in, the coal industry has decreased in market size. Moreover, cleaner sources of energy than coal are becoming more available to the public. To learn all the details about this topic, here are the latest coal industry employment statistics, curated for you.

Crucial Stats and Facts (Editor's Choice)

  • The US is the third-highest coal producer in the world.
  • During President Trump's administration, 300 coal mining jobs have disappeared.
  • The renewable coal reserves in the US can endure for around 357 years.
  • The current number of coal jobs in the US is somewhere around 41,000.
  • The pandemic caused the loss of over 4,500 coal jobs.
  • China and India consume the most coal globally.
  • An estimated 9% of coal workers are women.
  • West Virginia is the optimal location for coal mines in the US.

General Coal Mining Statistics

Before delving into the employment stats of coal mining, it's best to learn about the industry itself first. How did it evolve throughout the years? Read on to find out and discover the most important US coal mining facts.

1. The US is the fourth-largest coal producer on the planet.

Many people know the US as a global powerhouse in various aspects. Officially, the same goes for the American coal industry. The US has been classified as the fourth-highest coal producer in the world, following China, India, and Indonesia. In 2020, it only produced 534 Mt of coal, compared to Indonesia’s 564 Mt, India’s 734 Mt, and China’s 3,840 Mt.

2. Coal production in the US has decreased by around 16% since 2016.

The demand for coal production has experienced a drastic shift in recent years. With various households and businesses going for renewable energy, the coal industry now has competition. US coal production by year has gone down by 16% since 2016.

3. China produces more than 50% of the world’s coal.

China outstrips all other coal-producing countries in terms of market share by a long shot. With five times the output of the second-biggest coal producer - India - China is now responsible for more than half of the coal mined on Earth.

4. The US holds the largest coal reserve in the world.

As stated in a mining jobs report, the US has nearly 249 billion metric tons of coal in its reserves. In total, it means that the country has the largest coal reserves on the planet, with nearly 90 billion metric tons more than Russia, the country with the second-largest coal reserve. This fact also serves as a reminder that the US coal industry's employment potential could be relatively high. 

5. China and India are the two most prominent coal users.

Aside from high coal production rates, the highest coal demand in the world is also something China and India have in common. With a high population and the biggest share of coal industry employment by year, coal consumption is a constant staple of life in these two countries.

The data shows that China accounts for at least 54.3% of the global coal consumption rate. Meanwhile, India uses several times less than that, but is still responsible for burning 11.6% of the world’s coal.

6. The US coal reserves can last up to 357 years.

The working potential for coal reserves in the US is still vast and can run for a long time. With proper management, it can create more jobs in the future. According to updated coal industry employment statistics, the total US coal reserves can last another 357 years. Meanwhile, local reserves for currently producing coal mines can also endure up to 20 years.

7. Miners make for 35.9% of all employees in the coal-based energy generation industry.

Coal is the second-highest source of electricity in the US. According to current coal mining jobs statistics, miners account for more than a third of all the people involved in the process of turning coal into electrical energy. The second and third most prominent groups are employees working with coal-related utilities and those providing business services in the industry, respectively.

8. Coal power use in the US should increase by 17% in 2021.

After a predicted and actual drop in this sector from 2019 to 2020, coal is expected to once again play a bigger part in the energy sector in 2021. This increase should also affect coal mining jobs and statistics in 2021. However, renewable energy sources, such as wind energy and hydropower, are expected to further rise in significance, as well, so the question of how long coal will stay competitive on the market remains.

9. The top US mining company is Newmont Corporation, with approximately $10.5 billion in revenue.

With the energy industry rapidly shifting to a new era, various mining companies have come and gone throughout the decades. However, one of them has stayed as a constant pioneer. As stated in up-to-date coal industry employment statistics, Newmont Mining Group is the US's leading mining company right now. In 2020 alone, the corporation has generated a massive revenue of $10.5 billion.

10. There were around 740 people employed in the coal mining industry of New Zealand in 2020.

If you look at other countries, the supply and demand ratio for coal is entirely different. Instead of coal, these countries use other power sources: For example, New Zealand has been known to mainly utilize renewable sources to generate electricity. As a result, the coal mining job numbers for New Zealand show this industry employs only 740 people.

11. The Coal Index in the US went down by 80% when President Trump was elected.

After many trials in recent years, the coal industry in the US is striving to maintain stability. According to an updated stock report, the Coal Index went from 45 to 8.57 when President Trump was officially elected. This drastic 20% drop in coal stocks led to many closed businesses during his presidential term.

The Latest Coal Industry Employment Statistics in the US

The self-styled land of opportunity, the US was one of the leading job creators at the beginning of the industrial era. However, this momentum has long since disappeared, and the biggest driver of the US energy sector - the coal industry - is slowly falling by the wayside. Here are more statistical facts about employment in the coal industry to grasp more about this modern shift.

12. The US has fewer and fewer coal mining jobs by year, with only 41,000 people employed in 2021.

Career opportunities in coal mining have altered in amount throughout the years. In 2019, the industry had around 49,900 employees. In 2015, that number was approximately 63,000, while in 2011, there were more than twice as many active workers in the coal mining industry as there are now (87,800).

13. Contrary to his campaign promises, coal jobs went down under Trump.

The inevitable decline of coal mining has only been exacerbated during President Trump's administration. Seasonally adjusted data shows that around 900 jobs in the coal industry have been lost in the US since his inauguration.

14. The annual mean wage of coal mining occupations is $63,280.

“How much do coal miners make?” you might wonder. Mining for coal can be one of the most physically demanding jobs in the world, not to mention the dangers that come with it. You might expect such a hazardous job to be paid extremely well, but that’s unfortunately not the case: The annual mean salary of a coal industry worker is around $63,280. The miners’ paychecks are actually lower than that, while executives can expect to receive twice as much on an annual level.

15. The collective salaries of those employed in the coal mining industry have halved over the past decade.

In contrast to the wages of coal miners from ten years ago, the total amount these workers receive today has downsized by a lot. In a comparison study of coal industry employment statistics up to 2021, the results showed that the average salary in coal mining had been reduced by more than 50%. For example, coal mining employees earned a total of $7.8 billion in 2011. In 2021, that sum has gone down to $3.1 billion.

16. The median age of a coal mining employee in the US is 44 years old.

Mining coal is a strenuous task. For one, it can pose many dangers to a worker's health, as evidenced by the number of coal mining deaths per year. The experience and wariness miners develop as they work are critical to a long career, and most miners now have long careers. The median age of a coal mining employee is therefore 44 years old.

17. Chief executives in the mining industry can earn up to $127,000 every year.

With most jobs, if an employee proves to be exemplary at it, they would likely work their way up and earn better wages. The same rule applies to the coal mining industry, but high-paying mining jobs are not technically mining jobs at all - managerial positions in a mining company can receive as much as $127,000 every year.

18. More than 4,500 coal mining jobs were lost due to the pandemic.

Related to the previous stat, it's apparent that the pandemic has deeply affected many livelihoods. It led to a global job loss for millions of individuals.

How many coal jobs in the US have vanished, then? The current figures say that 4,500 employees have lost their jobs in the coal mining industry.

19. There are only 5 VAT- or PAYE-based coal mining corporations in the UK, as of 2020.

Outside the US, the UK has also experienced a decline in coal mining employment. There are only five VAT- or PAYE-based companies for coal mining in the UK. These corporations usually have between 100 and 249 employees.

20. Only 10% of US coal jobs by year are held by women.

Gender diversity is not the coal mining industry’s strong suit, contrary to the overwhelming trend in employment across most other sectors. It appears that female employees amount to just one-tenth of the entire coal mining workforce in the US.

Stats on US Coal Mining Employment by State

The present condition of the coal mining sector in the US varies from one state to another. With multiple state and federal agencies trying to switch to clean, renewable energy, the geographical scope of coal mining has been narrowing further and further. Here are ten more stats illustrating the employment of coal workers in specific US States.

21. The Appalachian region employs the highest number of coal miners in the US, with over 30,254 miners working there in 2019.

If you look at the Appalachian region, it has the most coal miners in the US reportedly. A recent survey claimed that about 30,254 employed people in the Appalachian region's coal mining industry. Due to this fact, it's one of the main contributors of coal in the country.

22. 27% of coal production in the US is centered in the Appalachian region.

How many states is coal mined in? In total, it's 25 US states divided into three regions.

The Appalachian region consists of Alabama, Eastern Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Together, these states produce around 27% of the total coal in the US. Most of the Appalachian coal supply is derived from underground mines (78%).

23. West Virginia has the most coal mines in the US, but Wyoming is the biggest coal-producing state.

West Virginia is the second-largest contributor of coal among all US states, after Wyoming. If you’re wondering how many coal mines there are in the US, we can tell you that there were 561 active mines in 2020, and that 162 of them are in West Virginia.

24. More than half of the coal produced in the US comes from the Western coal region.

Another area of interest in the coal mining industry is the Western coal region. It's composed of the following states: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

US coal production by year tells us that around 55% of the US's total mined coal originates from the Western coal region. It's also where surface mines are usually located. 91% of the coal output in this area is obtained from surface mines.

25. Wyoming is the largest contributor of coal production in the US, despite having fewer than 20 mines.

Wyoming stands out as the top producer of coal, and while you can find more active mines there than in Washington state, their number is still fairly low, at 16. Nonetheless, around 39% of the US's produced coal comes from Wyoming, as does 72% of the coal in the Western region.

26. West Virginia is the biggest employer in the coal-mining industry.

While it has suffered the coal-mining industry decline along with the rest of the country, the state still had over 10,000 coal-mining employees in 2019 - 13,988, according to exact coal mining statistics.

27. The Interior coal region makes for 18% of the total coal production rate in the US.

Last but not least, in the trio of coal-producing US areas is the Interior coal region. It's composed of the following locations: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and Western Kentucky. In terms of mining jobs, we can report that the Interior region employs around one-fifth of the US mining workforce.

28. Illinois is the largest coal producer in the Interior coal region.

Among the ten states in the interior coal region, the leading coal producer is Illinois. The state accounts for over a third (36%) of the region’s coal output. Additionally, it makes for 6% of the annual US coal production.

29. Kentucky employed 6,257 people in its surface and underground mines in 2019.

Kentucky has risen in the industry as a notable contributor of coal. But how many people work in the coal industry of Kentucky? Before the pandemic hit, Kentucky had 6,257 workers in its coal-mining sector. The efforts from this workforce resulted in a 5.1% share in the country's entire coal production.

30. 88% of Colorado's energy consumption is reported to be from burning oil, coal, and other natural resources.

What is coal used for in the United States? Besides providing a livelihood for miners, coal is obviously used as an energy source. For example, Colorado’s energy consumption is distributed across several sources, but the vast majority of it - 88% - comes from oil, coal, and natural gas. Speaking of coal alone, it accounts for nearly a quarter of Colorado’s energy consumption, with a 23% share.

How These Coal Mining Employment Statistics Affect Your Hiring Outlook

For a long time, mining coal was considered one of the most stable careers you could have in the US. It was a driving force behind the Industrial era and has continued to be a primary energy source in the following centuries. However, its presence and relevance have been slowly dwindling in the past decade, as the importance of fighting climate change and transitioning to clean energy sources has grown in urgency. This coal mining industry decline has also led to a significant drop in its employment rate.

Despite modern technologies taking over, many US communities are still dependant on coal. There were 41,000 workers in the US coal industry as of this year, which is a drop of several thousand compared to the previous couple of years. If that momentum keeps up, the coal industry's employment outlook will remain uncertain, to say the least.