A study predicts a loss of between 800 to 4,300 coal jobs over the next ten years in 15 southeastern Montana counties. (MTN News photo)
A study of the Treasure State coal industry conducted by the University of Southern Mississippi in partnership with the Taimerica Management Company foresees a loss of between 800 to 4,300 jobs over the next ten years in 15 southeastern Montana counties.
Those jobs losses are predicted in both direct coal jobs and industry related jobs.
The study acknowledges many uncertainties and variables in the coal industry. As many as four different scenarios could play out over the next decade that would affect the number of jobs lost and the direction of the industry.
Montana coal mines currently employ more than 1,300 workers directly with an average wage of $27 per hour.
With electric utilities across the U.S. now replacing coal power with investments in natural gas and other renewable resources, the Energy Information Administration forecasts a 30% decline in coal generation over the next decade.
The report analyzed the coal industry sub-sectors and coal workers anticipated to be impacted to address opportunities to transition workers into other employment.
Economic conditions appear to be favorable in Montana in helping displaced coal workers transition into other employment.