Democratic presidential hopeful and former US vice president Joe Biden told unemployed miners, particularly those in the coal sector, to learn to code so that they can access the jobs of the future.
According to Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel, at a rally in Derry, New Hampshire, Biden said that if miners are able to go underground 3,000 feet or throw coal into a furnace, they surely have the ability to learn how to program.
Biden’s comments come at a moment when natural gas has taken a good share of the market previously dominated by coal and when coal generation continues to go down. At the same time, coal exports from the US to Asia and Europe are experiencing a series of roadblocks imposed by towns and cities that decided to put limits on how much of the fossil fuel is shipped from their ports.
The former vice president’s remarks were not entirely well-received, even within his own party. Brianna Wu, candidate for the House of Representatives in MA District 8 and a software engineer, tweeted that Biden’s comment seems to be tone-deaf to the needs of mineworkers who have lost their jobs.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 53,300 people were employed in coal mines in September 2019, far below the 79,400 people employed in the sector a decade ago.
It’s not the first time Biden has made comments that call into question his connection to the realities of unemployed Americans.
Following a presidential debate on December 19, the Washington Examiner published an op-ed titled “Is Joe Biden trying to lose the Rust Belt?” This, after the Democratic candidate did not elaborate on how, if elected, his government would provide opportunities to blue-collar energy and mine workers to transition to well-paying jobs as the US is pushed to move toward a green economy.