Eastern Kentucky Bearing Brunt of Kentucky Coal Job Losses

Feb 5, 2014

Kentucky’s coal industry shed more than 2,300 jobs last year, according to the latest numbers from the state Energy and Environment Cabinet.

Most of those losses were in eastern Kentucky .

The final quarterly coal report from the Energy and Environment cabinet wraps up a dismal year for the industry. And for Eastern Kentucky, this marks the 10th straight quarter of declining coal employment.

Since 2007, Eastern Kentucky has lost more than 6,000 coal jobs, just under half. Coal production has dropped even more drastically. At the same time, production and employment have grown modestly in the western portion of the commonwealth.

A number of factors are behind the decline, including pollution controls that allow plants to burn higher sulfur coal, like that mined in western Kentucky and Illinois.

The latest report from the Kentucky energy cabinet shows more bad news for the commonwealth's declining coal industry. The cabinet released numbers this week showing a  loss of more than 2,300 jobs last year.

This marks the third straight year of declining coal jobs in the state, and most of those losses have been in Eastern Kentucky. Production in the region is also declining, and was eclipsed by coal production in the western coalfields.

Numerous factors have led to the coal industry’s recent problems, including increased regulations on coal mining and burning, decreased competitiveness compared to cheap natural gas and declining reserves.