Mining jobs in Arizona pay pretty well. At least they used to. The details are set out at Arizona Geology. That great blog notes from a 2007 study — true, probably out-of-date, but interesting nevertheless:
- Produced $98.4 billion of finished mineral, metal and fuel products, which were transformed into an additional $1.8 trillion in value added by other mineral, metal and coal consuming industries.
Employed 376,310 workers in the 50 states
- Payroll was $22.1 billion
- Paid $4.4 billion in taxes on production and imports, which includes severance taxes, royalties, fees, property taxes and gross receipts taxes, etc., in 2006, the latest data available
- Paid $1.2 billion in federal royalties and other mineral revenues
- Paid $1.2 billion in federal corporate income taxes in 2005, according to the latest data available from the IRS
The State of Arizona, home to 411 mining operations, provided direct employment to 18,480 people and another 34,360 people indirectly from mining activity occurring both in and outside the state for a total of 52,840 jobs statewide. Mining jobs in Arizona are high paying – 44 percent higher than the average wage in the state. The average annual wage in the mining industry in Arizona was $60,000 in 2007. Total direct earnings from the State of Arizona’s mining payroll were $1,110 million. Including earnings from indirect economic activity from the mining industry in Arizona and elsewhere, a total of $2,520 million was earned by workers in Arizona. Income and payroll taxes from Arizona payrolls, including federal, state and local, and FICA totaled nearly $824 million.
To establish just how current this rosy picture is, I made haste to CareerMine. There I found but 14 jobs in mining in Arizona. And all were for consultants. One for a consulting tailings engineer; one for somebody to write NEPA reports; on to sell computer systems to mines to do it all by computer; and one to manage mine cost and schedule control systems.
A search of Google with keywords “arizona mining jobs” produced none. Just a few reports of more layoff, like this one:
For now, the state’s immediate job outlook isn’t bright. In 2008, employers warned the state that they were dumping more than 7,200 jobs in mass layoffs. So far this year, employers have warned of at least 1,800 more jobs lost. Nearly 1,600 of them involve the Phoenix-based mining company Freeport McMoRan, which advised the state’s Department of Economic Security that it anticipates layoffs in Morenci by mid-March.
Let me vent a little on the situation. For I have been involved in arguments with my son-in-law over the state of the economy these past few days and I am angry.
He is furious that California is proposing to raise taxes across a broad swath of things. I reminded him that he lives in the nicest part of the world and that high taxes are a small price to pay for the privileges he and the family enjoy.
He reminded me that over five billion dollars of California’s over-spending is on prisons. I reminded him that it is expensive to incarcerate innocent drug users—apparently about sixty to seventy percent of California’s prison population. And that he should acknowledge how expensive it is to deprive people of the right to do what they want to as long as it harms no one else—kind of like casual drug use in Vancouver where, if it were California, the kids of most of my friends would be in jail. Or gay marriage—look at the money wasted here on depriving innocent people of simple rights like love.
Of course he was angry when I reminded him that a society that squanders on unproductive expenditure like prisons and propositions must eventually go bust, or like Rio Tinto, go get money from the Chinese.
Come to think of it maybe now is the time to sell Freeport McMoran to the Chinese. Or is that privilege reserved for the British who seek to avoid an Australian embrace?
My son-in-law touted a tax cut as the way to get the economy going again. I reminded him that his family earned over $150 K last year and so hardly qualify as middle-class, and that the middle class tax cuts and rebates and all the rest of it that amount to $400 is peanuts by comparison with what we had just spent at Wal-Mart on dog food and toilet paper and plastic toys and cheap socks.
My analysis: There is a vast chasm of non-understanding and self-interest focus in America. My kids work hard, earn well, understand so little. When I recall the shock to our systems, to those of us who lived through the collapse of the mining industry in 1982/3, I shudder to think of the shocks these kids are yet to experience before they grow up, know that there are other people around them, and realize the incredible life styles they are enjoying. I wonder how many of them will survive intact?