Saturday, September 14, 2013

King Coal Forever....

....  depends on how you define 'forever'. 

Trib the other day: EPA's proposed new regulations could keep coal industry reeling.The 'keep' part is right.  How much coal mining is left in Pittsburgh? Or, given the compounding increases in labor force productivity, how many coal mining jobs remain? Consider that the total number of coal mining jobs in the Pittsburgh MSA is now under 2K at most.  That's it.  <2K*.  Coal jobs once far outnumbered those in steel, but the job losses came earlier and are now far from our collective memory. Nearby West Virginia remains much more of a coal based economy, but still the time has come when the unthinkable has been asked more and more. PolicyMic: What Happens in States Like West Virginia After Coal?
There were once so many coal jobs in Western Pennsylvania that it fueled much of the region's population growth and diversity. Read about the region's Syrian-American population mentioned today in the National Geographic: Syria's War Hits Home for Immigrants:
"Some Alawites found mining jobs in towns around Pittsburgh—the population in New Castle, Pennsylvania, is estimated to have reached several hundred in the 1930s and had its own social club, El-Fityet Alaween. More Alawites came with later waves of Syrian immigrants."

So I'm guessing at numbers I don't have, but I am betting there were once almost as many coal miners across Southwestern Pennsylvania born in the Levant alone than there are coal mining jobs in total today. How is follow people or people follow jobs?  

* Under 2K is indeed the number of coal mining jobs in the 7-county MSA.  Note that Greene County is not included in the MSA and has a sizable concentration of coal jobs in addition to that.


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