Economy

Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

Automotive manufacturing leaders met in Kentucky to discuss how changes in U.S. trade policy under President Trump affect the industry and its growing presence in the Ohio Valley.

Industry leaders gathered for the annual AutoVision conference and many don’t like what they see coming.

NAFTA 2.0 negotiations are ongoing, companies are paying tariffs for some steel and aluminum imports and domestic metals prices are increasing as demand goes up. Add to that the prospect of auto import tariffs President Trump is exploring and executives like John-Mark Hack see trouble ahead. 


Coal Miners Respiratory Clinic

When former coal mine employees in western Kentucky faced arraignment Wednesday on federal charges that they conspired to falsify the required monitoring of coal dust, the hearing brought renewed attention to the region’s surge in black lung disease.

The case highlights the many challenges miners face in the workplace. And health officials in black lung clinics say sick miners also face an increasingly Byzantine bureaucratic process that determines if those afflicted with the lung disease receive benefits.


J. Tyler Franklin

Kentucky's Governor is meeting Monday night with the Chinese Ambassador to the U.S.

Matt Bevin and Cui Tiankai will discuss economic development at the meeting in the Governor’s Mansion in Frankfort.

The meeting comes at a time of increasingly strained relationships between Washington and Beijing.

President Donald Trump has pursued an aggressive trade policy against China, slapping billions of dollars in tariffs on imported Chinese products, such as solar panels, washing machines, flat-panel televisions, and medical devices.

Ashton Marra, WVPB

In October, 2016, NPR, Ohio Valley ReSource and its partners reported that West Virginia billionaire coal baron Jim Justice, who was running for governor as a Democrat, owned companies that owed roughly $15 million in overdue taxes and mine safety fines.

This week, Gov. Justice, who is now a Republican, made an announcement about those taxes.

“I think we can put to bed once and for all this tax issue that’s been looming around forever more,” Justice said at a Monday press conference. 


Becca Schimmel

Eight former employees of two western Kentucky coal mines entered not guilty pleas at an arraignment hearing Wednesday. Those defendants are being federally charged with cheating on safety monitoring which is meant to reduce the risk of black lung disease.

Miners who work in the dustiest areas routinely wear monitoring devices. The indictment alleges those workers would be replaced mid-shift with miners who were not wearing the devices. Officials at Armstrong Coal Company are also accused of fabricating tests and submitting results from days when the mine wasn’t operating.

Creative Commons

Kentucky’s aging drinking water and sewer systems need billions of dollars in investment to prevent system failures impacting public health and the environment, according to Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet.

Current investments aren’t enough and the state needs nearly $15 billion in additional infrastructure improvements over the next 20 years, said Deputy Cabinet Secretary Bruce Scott to the Senate standing committee on natural resources Monday.

“We have to make an investment, we cannot avoid making the investment in water and sewers and dams,” Scott said. “The only real question is when.”

More Americans will be writing a check to the IRS in April because their employers are not withholding enough from their paychecks following the new tax law, the Government Accountability Office says in a new report.

Thinkstock

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office has issued a new scam warning after a mobile deposit scam cost one Kentuckian $10,000.

The Franklin County resident provided her bank account information online to what appeared to be a legitimate bank. She was depositing a $10,000 personal loan. The “lender” claimed there was an issue with the deposit and the money needed to be returned and reissued. After sending the money back using an untraceable method of payment, the victim’s bank detected that the loan check was counterfeit and the victim was stuck repaying the bank.

Aaron Payne

United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts fired up a crowd of thousands of union workers in Columbus, Ohio, with a simple chant: “Fix it!”

The rally last week came on the eve of a Congressional field hearing on problems plaguing multiemployer pension programs like the one retired miners depend upon.

“When the people get to marching, the politicians get to listening,” Roberts roared.


Tableau

A new report shows the average income of the top one percent of Kentuckians is more than 18.4 times greater than the average income of state residents.

Income for the wealthiest one percent of earners in Kentucky was more than $719,012 in 2015, compared to an average income of almost $39,990 for all other Kentuckians. The report from the Economic Policy Institute shows from 2009 to 2015 the top one percent income grew 23.2 percent while everyone else’s income grew only 7.2 percent. Ashley Spalding is a senior policy analyst with the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy.  

Kevin Willis

The head of Kentucky’s bourbon association says he’s worried that a drawn-out trade war could slow down growth of the state’s signature distilling industry.

Kentucky bourbon is in the crosshairs of retaliatory tariffs from the European Union, Mexico and Canada after President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from those countries.

Kentucky Distillers Association President Eric Gregory said distillers are worried that if the dispute escalates, it’ll offset some of the industry’s massive growth over the past decade.

Updated at 2:50 a.m. ET on Wednesday

The Trump administration has published a preliminary list of additional Chinese products that could be targeted with tariffs in the escalating trade war between the world's two biggest economies. The list covers some $200 billion in Chinese exports that could be hit by a 10 percent tariff. It's an extensive list of over 6,000 goods that include seafood, propane and toilet paper, among many other things.

Still from White House video

President Donald Trump’s desire to help boost the Ohio Valley’s energy industry and bring back mining jobs could be stymied by the administration's escalating trade battle with China and other trading partners across the globe.

The Trump administration announced in June $50 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, which are set to go into effect on Friday. In return, China has committed to its own $50 billion in tariffs on U.S. exports, which may include U.S. energy exports.


Updated at 8:15 a.m. ET

As the day dawned across the U.S. on Friday, a new economic reality dawned with it: The tariffs long threatened against billions of dollars in Chinese goods took effect just at midnight ET while many Americans were sleeping — but Beijing was ready immediately with a wake-up call of its own.

Lisa Autry

Bowling Green resettled more refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo over a recent three-month period than from any other country. The size of some of those Congolese families is presenting challenges when it comes to finding living arrangements.

Evelina Gevorgiyan is the refugee program manager at the Bowling Green-based International Center of Kentucky. She said many of the Congolese refugees coming from Kentucky have large families, including one with 14 people. But many landlords will only allow two people per bedroom.

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