Wednesday, June 11, 2014

[NJFAC] Why Do Coal Mining Jobs Matter So Much More Than Jobs Lost to Trade?

Why Do Coal Mining Jobs Matter So Much More Than Jobs Lost to Trade?

Monday, 09 June 2014 10:39 By Dean Baker, Truthout | Op-Ed

When President Obama announced plans to curtail the use of coal over the next fifteen years major news outlets like National Public Radio and The New York Times rushed to do pieces on the prospective loss of jobs in coal mining areas. There are a bit less than 80,000 workers directly employed in the coal industry. A large percentage of these jobs will be lost in the next fifteen years due to these regulations.

While it is good to see the media paying attention to this job loss and its implications for families and communities, this concern is a striking departure from normal practice. This was demonstrated clearly last week when the Commerce Department reported a large jump in the trade deficit for April. The report, and the implied job loss, received almost no attention from the media.

To remind folks who never suffered through an intro economics course or forgot their suffering, a trade deficit means that demand generated in the United States is going overseas. Money spent by businesses or consumers is going for goods and services produced in Europe, Mexico, and China rather than in United States.

This implied job loss from this rise in the trade deficit over the prior three months is roughly ten times the number of jobs at risk in the coal industry over the next fifteen years. Yet there was not a story in any major media outlet that highlighted the jobs put in jeopardy by a growing trade deficit.

It is worth noting who benefits from the trade deficit. Major retailers like Walmart have worked for decades to develop low cost supply chains in the developing world. They make a point of buying products from China, Cambodia, Bangladesh, or anyone else who delivers goods at rock bottom prices. They would not be pleased by measures to reduce the trade deficit.

National Jobs for All Coalition

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