Thursday, June 18, 2015

Central Appalachia hit hardest by loss of coal jobs: Ky., W.Va. have lost 14,366 jobs since 2011

Analysis by West Virginia Public Broadcasting and SNL Energy found that Kentucky and West Virginia have lost 14,366 coal jobs since the fourth quarter of 2011. Kentucky leads the nation in lost coal jobs, having lost 7,666, while West Virginia is second with 6,700 lost jobs, Dave Mistich reports for West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Job losses are mostly blamed on cheaper natural gas and Environmental Protection Agency proposed rules to cut carbon-dioxide emissions from existing power plants 30 percent by 2030.

The effects can be felt throughout Appalachian Southwestern West Virginia, which mostly consists of impoverished counties that had been hit hard by the loss of coal jobs. West Virginia coal production
has dropped from 33,692,338 tons in the fourth quarter of 2011 down to 28,351,854 tons in the first quarter of 2015, Mistich writes. (To view a larger version and an interactive map of counties, click here)
Boone County leads the nation in coal mine losses by county, having lost 2,698 jobs, or 58 percent of employment since the fourth quarter of 2011, Mistich writes. Nicholas County has lost 76 percent of its coal mining jobs, losing a total of 558 jobs. In addition to Boone and Nicholas counties, Mingo (801 lost jobs), Fayette (609), Logan (557), McDowell (512) and Raleigh (403) counties all rank among the top 25 counties nationally for lost coal jobs. Kentucky has eight counties in the top 25; Virginia, Pennsylvania and Alabama have two; and Wyoming, Illinois, Indiana and Colorado have one.

Not many people are optimistic of an upturn every occurring, Mistich writes. Jordan Bridges, a coal miner in Logan County, told Mistich, “I’d say that I’ll get laid off. I’d say the job will probably shut down. That’s just the way it is . . . I have friends that don’t want to leave. But what are they supposed to do. They were raised here. I was raised here. We want to raise our kids here." (Read more)

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