WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Nearly two-thirds of U.S. coal producing states lost coal mining jobs in 2017, even as overall employment in the downtrodden sector grew modestly, according to preliminary government data obtained by Reuters.
The statistics come as the administration of President Donald Trump claims credit for new jobs in the coal industry, a business he has promised to revive by rolling back Obama-era environmental regulations.
Unreleased full-year coal employment data from the Mining Health and Safety Administration shows total U.S. coal mining jobs grew by 771 to 54,819 during Trump’s first year in office, led by Central Appalachian states like West Virginia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania – where coal companies have opened a handful of new mining areas.
“You know, West Virginia is doing fantastically well,” Trump told Reuters in an interview this week about the state, which gained 1,345 coal jobs last year, according to the data. “It’s great coal.”
But the industry also lost jobs in other Appalachian states like Ohio, Kentucky, and Maryland; the western Powder River Basin states Montana and Wyoming; as well as in several other states like Indiana, New Mexico, and Texas.