Coal is America’s most abundant energy resource—making up 90 percent of U.S. fossil energy reserves on a Btu basis. Based on 2020 U.S. coal production of approximately 0.54 billion short tons, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that the country’s recoverable coal reserves would last over 300 years.
America’s coal industry is doing its part to increase U.S. competitiveness abroad while producing jobs and economic benefits at home. Coal is essential to the U.S. economy, providing affordable electricity to households, businesses, manufacturing facilities, transportation and communications systems, and services throughout our economy.
Although coal’s total contribution to the American economy and way of life is impossible to estimate, coal production has demonstrable benefits. These include the direct employment of nearly 94,000 people and the creation of 3.3 jobs for every job in coal mining, for a total of more than 300,000 jobs. Coal generated $26 billion in sales and paid $10 billion in direct wages and salaries according to 2020 analysis by the National Mining Association.
Coal fueled electricity generation is a major creator of much-needed jobs in America’s economy.
Because of its abundance, reliability and affordability, about one-fifth of the nation’s electricity is generated from coal, resulting in electricity costs that generally are lower in states that rely upon coal for more than half of their electricity generation versus states that rely on other fuels.
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.