According to an analysis of economic data since early 2017, jobs in Pennsylvania’s coal, fracking, and steel industries have declined during President Donald Trump’s time in office despite his extensive promises on the 2016 campaign trail to preserve them.

In January 2017, there were 4,900 coal-mining jobs in Pennsylvania. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, that number stood at 4,800 in August 2020 after hitting a 30-year low of 4,500 from April through June 2020 during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

On the campaign trail in September of this year, Trump claimed that there were over 900,000 fracking-related jobs in Pennsylvania, a number that the data showed was wildly exaggerated, by as much as 3,500%. In reality, there are closer to 26,000 fracking jobs in Pennsylvania, a number that has almost certainly declined in response to market prices and ensuing cuts by natural gas companies during Trump’s tenure as president.

The third Pennsylvania industry that Trump promised to bring back was steel, which has been suffering statewide since the 1980s. According to the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank, there were about 11,300 jobs in iron and steel mills in January 2017, at the beginning of Trump‚Äôs term. Amid the mismanaged pandemic, that number has fallen to 10,000 as of April and remains at that level. Unfortunately, some of Trump‚Äôs tariffs on steel have also hurt businesses in Pennsylvania, including Allegheny Technologies Inc., whose CEO said they were ‚Äúhemorrhaging money‚ÄĚ because of Trump‚Äôs 25% tariff.

Despite Trump’s extensive promises in 2016 to bring jobs back to Pennsylvania’s coal, fracking, and steel industries, all three have seen job losses during his time in office. Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, escalating to a third peak, the job losses may become more significant with the potential of permanently damaging these industries in Pennsylvania if the pandemic is not brought under control.


Contact Chai Karve at ckarve@americanbridge.org