Whitesburg KY

Wind firms claim to hire more workers than coal does

The wind-energy industry says it employs more Americans than coal mining.

A new report from the American Wind Energy Association says wind industry jobs jumped to 85,000 in 2008, up 70 percent from the previous year. The U.S. Department of Energy reported coal mining employed close to 81,000 people in 2007, and Todd Woody of Fortune magazine reports reports coal jobs have remained steady in recent years but are down 50 percent since 1986.

The jump in wind jobs resulted from the 50 percent increase in installed wind capacity, with 8,358 megawatts coming online in 2008. Wind also accounted for 42 percent of the new electricity generation installed in the U.S. in 2008, Woody reports. But the outlook for wind jobs in 2009 isn’t as rosy, because the global credit crisis has delayed financing for new projects. Layoffs have also hit companies that make wind turbines.

The U.S. wind market is still dominated by European companies, but they have shifted production of components closer to American consumers. Domestic production was 30 percent of the total in 2005, and 50 percent in 2008.

— The report was compiled by
the Institute for Rural Journalism
and Community Issues at the University

of Kentucky.

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