Curtis Tate Published

Appalachian Coal Production, But Not Jobs, Increased In 2021

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Coal production rose in Appalachia in 2021, according to federal data, but employment declined.

Coal production was up 12 percent in Appalachia last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Production rose 8 percent nationally.

Coal employment, though, fell 5 percent in the region and 6 percent nationally.

West Virginia remained the region’s largest coal producer, with Pennsylvania second and Kentucky third.

Coal production increased in all three states. Kentucky employment rose slightly, was flat in West Virginia and fell 10 percent in Pennsylvania. West Virginia continued to employ more coal miners than any other state.

Wyoming remained the nation’s top coal producer, contributing nearly half the U.S. total of 577,000 tons for the year. Though production rebounded from 2020, the totals for both years are the lowest since the early 1970s.

Coal prices have been consistently high in the past year, topping over $200 a ton in recent weeks. Central Appalachian coal is currently selling for $176 a ton, while Northern Appalachian coal is priced at $180 a ton.

The high price of natural gas, and higher demand for energy worldwide have kept prices up.