Mining wages outpace other private sector jobs

On Tuesday, I shared some statistical analysis of mining employment in northern Minnesota. Yesterday I heard from a friend in the industry of some different numbers, also from DEED:

Average weekly mining wages

(included part time, no benefits)   2000                   2011 (inflation equivalent)  2011 (actual)
Mines                                           $979                     $1278                                  $1617
Other Private Sector                    $531                     $693                                    $712
Difference                                    $448                     $585                                    $ 905

This shows how mining wages have greatly outpaced other private sector wages in the region, now by almost 50 percent. These don’t change the other numbers, but show a different side of the story. If you ever wonder why these jobs enjoy such strong local support, this is your answer. Mining jobs have become the best jobs in the region for most workers.

UPDATE: The Duluth News Tribune has a story on this topic, “It’s Boom Times on the Iron Range.” And it is, for mining jobs. In case my argument confuses anyone, my argument is not against mining but rather for the diversification of our economy so that our communities are healthier in the future.


  1. If the mines didn’t pay well, then there wouldn’t be so much support for them. And by support I mean encouraging the development of new mining, regardless of the environmental consequences. At least these days, there will be people looking out for the environment and best practices. Hopefully there will be developments that are best for the long term use of the land, not just short term profits. And long term use of each mined product. If we “use it all up” too fast, then what?

    So….if the wages were low, would the mines get less support? My son, who has a masters in teaching, earns way less than the 2000 wage you cite. But schools aren’t disappearing. If teacher salaries went up, I don’t think that support for schools would rise either.

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