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Coal industry jobs down another 6.3 percent in second quarter; 8 Kentucky counties among top 25

U.S. coal-mining employment dropped another 6.3 percent in the second quarter of 2016, representing the loss of 3,463 jobs, Richard Kuykendall and Kevin Hunt report for Standard & Poor’s.

“Coal mining jobs have declined 45.6 percent from a near-term market peak in late 2011 to the second quarter of 2016. In the same time period domestic coal production has fallen 43.2 percent compared to the year-ago period,” they wrote. The greatest losses have been in Appalachia.


“In the first three quarters of 2015, average coal-job employment was falling by less than 3,000 employees per quarter. Then, losses accelerated as many companies entered bankruptcy,” Kuykendall and Hunt write. “By the final quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016, respectively, the industry lost 4,245 and 6,673 jobs.” (SNL Energy graphics)

West Virginia has lost 53 percent of its coal jobs—13,137—since the fourth quarter of 2011, Kuykendall and Hunt write.

The biggest loss since then has been in Boone County, “once a center of coal mining that boasted as many as 4,608 coal miners in the final quarter of 2011, had a reported 821 reported average coal jobs in the recent quarter, a decline of about 82.2 percent.”

Of the 25 counties with the biggest job losses since 2011, nine are in West Virginia and eight in Kentucky. Virginia, Alabama and Pennsylvania have two each and Wyoming and Illinois each have one.


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The Rural Blog, where this article was distributed, is a digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism from and about rural America, from the IRJCI, based at the University of Kentucky. The Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues is an extension program for rural journalists and news outlets. It takes no positions on issues and advocates only for strong news coverage, responsible commentary and things that make them possible, such as open-government laws. For more information see www.RuralJournalism.org.

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