Re: “Mining Minnesota study misfires on tourism,” by Marshall Helmberger.
Mining and tourism have existed in northeast Minnesota for generations and will continue to do so for future generations. When you try to compare mining jobs to tourism jobs it shows the stark difference in wages and benefits.
Direct mining jobs in northeast Minnesota pay $82,363 a year without including benefits. For every one of these direct jobs 2.24 mining related jobs are created, paying an average of $68,444 a year. When you combine the two, the total jobs created is 5,140 at an average wage of $81,500 a year.
Now let’s look at tourism jobs. The Praxis study in northeast Minnesota shows a total of 6,390 direct and indirect tourism jobs in northeast Minnesota paying an average of $18,207 with little to no benefits. Even if you add in the food service workers, as Helmberger suggests, it only raises the wage to approximately $23,000 a year. Another point not brought into the equation by Helmberger is the fact that tourism is a seasonal industry. A certain percentage of businesses close over the winter. This causes their employees to either go on unemployment or try to seek employment elsewhere.
Mining keeps miners working around the clock 365 days a year. These are the people that keep the food and drink establishments operating in the off tourism time of the year.
Which would you rather have? A job in mining, paying $81,500 a year with benefits or a job in tourism paying $23,000 a year with little to no benefits?
We choose mining and that’s why Minnesota Miners, a pro-mining group in northeast Minnesota, supports the development of the PolyMet Northmet mine. We also support the renewal of Twin Metals’ mineral leases and stopping the withdrawal of 435,000 acres of the Superior National Forest from mining.
Michael A. Cole is the CEO of Minnesota Miners.