Thursday, August 08, 2013

Eastern Kentucky continues to reach record lows for coal jobs, while western coalfields add jobs

Kentucky coal jobs reached a modern low in the first quarter of the year, and declined even lower in the second quarter, hitting the lowest number since at least 1927, Bill Estep reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader. All the job losses came in Eastern Kentucky, where the state cut another 916 jobs during the second quarter. Eastern Kentucky has historically produced more coal than Western Kentucky, but western coalfields added 65 jobs during the second quarter, and accounted for 50.2 percent of all production. (Herald-Leader photo: Pine Branch Coal Sales in Eastern Kentucky)

"Those losses came on the heels of more than 4,000 coal-industry layoffs in Eastern Kentucky in 2012 and a continued slide during the first three months of 2013," Estep reports. "Since mid-2011, Eastern Kentucky has lost more than 5,700 coal jobs, or nearly 42 percent, while the decline in Western Kentucky has been 105 jobs, or 2.3 percent."

Read more here:

As of July, an estimated 12,342 people work in coal mines and related facilities, with 7,951 in Eastern Kentucky and 4,391 in Western Kentucky, Estep reports. "Officials in Eastern Kentucky said some laid-off miners have moved away to get work, while others are driving long distances for jobs or working at mines so far from home they have to live away from their families for extended periods."

Statewide, coal production fell 1.3 percent in the second quarter, and production in Eastern Kentucky has declined 41.4 percent since mid-2011, Estep reports. "Western Kentucky coal was once at a disadvantage in meeting clean-air rules because it has a higher sulfur content, but the installation of scrubbers at many power plants has helped fuel a comeback in the region. Eastern Kentucky faces a number of challenges, including competition from relatively cheap natural gas and lower-cost coal from other parts of the country; higher mining costs and declining productivity, which reflect the fact that much of the best coal has already been mined; and tougher rules aimed at protecting air and water quality." (Read more)

No comments: