History In The Making: Solar Jobs Outnumber Coal Jobs In Virginia

Virginia, which was once known as coal country, now has more jobs in the solar industry than the coal industry.

The state of Virginia was once known as coal country. It used to be the 14th largest coal producer in America; however, now it offers more jobs in the solar industry.

According to the numbers obtained from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, a significant shift has taken place in the state with a 40 percent drop in the number of people working in the coal industry over the last five years. 

The solar industry employees have outnumbered the coal industry employees for the first time in history. In 2016, 1.9 million Americans were reportedly employed in electric power generation, mining and other fuel extraction activities. More than 373,000 Americans worked part or full time in solar energy, and just over 260,000 of them — or about 70 percent — worked for solar projects.

There has been a 64 percent increase in the solar industry in recent times. Most solar energy jobs were available in installation, construction and manufacturing. According to a report released by the state Energy and Environment Cabinet, coal mine employment dropped 3.3 percent statewide from Jan. 1 through March 31 in Kentucky.

President Donald Trump touted to revive the coal industry with the help of “so many energy jobs” after dismantling Obama-era climate change efforts. Although the president has pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, the situation for coal miners still remains the same.

Compliance with the terms of the Paris accord, and the owners, could cost Americans as much as 2.7 million lost jobs by 2025, according to the National Economic Research Associates. This includes 440,000 fewer manufacturing jobs, not what we need. Believe me, this is not what we need,” he said while justifying his decision for pulling out of the climate deal.

His stats were wrong.

Recently, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt claimed the United States added 6,600 mining and coal jobs in May. "We've had over 50,000 jobs since last quarter — coal jobs, mining jobs — created in this country. We had almost 7,000 mining and coal jobs created in the month of May alone," he said in an interview.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mining sector added an estimated 6,600 jobs in May. However, that estimated change from the prior month was not big enough for the department's statisticians to assure whether the mining sector — which has about 650,000 jobs overall — actually created or lost any jobs.

Thumbnail Credits: Reuters 

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