Tuesday, April 14, 2015

West Virginia lost 2,596 coal mining jobs from Jan. 1 to March 26, reports Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Central Appalachia has been rapidly losing coal jobs, as coal companies face more competition from natural gas, proposed rules to cut greenhouse gases and a reduction of foreign investors buying U.S. coal, which has led to shuttering of several coal operations. Numbers have been especially startling in West Virginia in recent months, Bill Archer reports for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. From Jan. 1 to March 26, the state lost 2,596 coal jobs, with the number of jobs dropping from 18,200 to 15,604.

Rick Taylor, president of the Pocahontas Coal Association, who started working mines in 1976, told Archer, “In the nearly 40 years that I’ve been in this business, this is the worst I’ve ever seen it. What bothers me the most is that we’re losing our most valuable asset—our labor force. These experienced coal miners are good workers who may be forced to leave homes their families have been in for generations. They’re good workers, so they will likely find work. When they do, we may never get them back.”

Losing coal jobs also affects other businesses, Archer writes. Taylor estimates that for every coal miner job lost it affects seven other jobs that rely on the coal business, such as welders, retail sales associates, school teachers, pharmacists, automobile mechanics and preachers.

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