Morning Edition Does PR Piece for the Coal Industry

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Friday, 28 September 2012 05:22

The coal industry has spent tens of millions of dollars trying to convince people that the country should not take measures to stop global warming. NPR contributed to this campaign by running a piece on the politics of Ohio in the election which implied that coal was central to the state's economy or at least to the area around Akron.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Ohio has approximately 12,000 employed in mining and logging. Presumably the vast majority of these workers are employed in coal mining. If we assume that all of them are employed in mining then this would be a bit more than 0.2 percent of its 5.2 million workers.

Turning to the Akron area, BLS doesn't break out mining and logging separately, but tells us that around 12,000 workers are employed in construction, mining, and logging. If we assume that construction accounts for 3 percent of total employment (roughly the national average), this would leave a bit less than 3,000 workers employed in mining, around 1 percent of its total employment of 320,000.

While the coal industry may want us to believe that the region's economy depends on a sector that accounts for less than 1 percent of total employment, that is not a plausible story. NPR should not have uncritically presented the industry's claims about its importance to the region's economy.