One day to go and McCain (R-AZ) is re-branding himself the "coal booster" in a last ditch effort to pick up some support in coal States like Pennsylvania.
In a speech yesterday at the University of Scranton, PA, McCain stated that:
My friends, I've been a coal booster and it's going to create jobs, and we're going to export coal to other countries and we are going to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. That's going to help restore the economy of the great state of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Unfortunately for McCain, his last minute job promises for the coal sector would probably sell better in a land of fairy dust and unicorns because in the real world his numbers just don't add up.
While the mining of more and more coal has continued to skyrocket, jobs in the US coal industry have continued to dramatically decline. Like many industries, the coal sector is using bigger and bigger machines that demand less and less people to do the job. And not surprisingly, nonunion coal jobs outnumber union jobs 3 to 1 (PDF).
Nationwide, according to the US Energy Information Administration's latest numbers, the US coal industry shed another 1,681 jobs between 2006 and 2007, while actual coal production (pdf) has maintained the highest levels in history. If you're still skeptical, here's a handy chart (pdf) showing how many tons of coal a miner can produce per hour - in 1949 a miner could produce about 1.92 tons per hour and that number has steadily increased to 10.23 tons currently today. In other words, the coal companies are making more and more money with less and less jobs.
Companies now use explosives and massive machines to blow the tops off mountains to extract coal instead of traditional mining. So while coal production has increased, mining jobs continue to plummet and here's a chart of what that looks like in West Virginia:
Sorry folks, but hundreds of thousands of jobs are just not in the works for the US coal industry and McCain's coal booster-ism is nothing more than a last ditch attempt by a presidential candidate that is about the get trounced at the polls.