Kentucky coal jobs down 6.9% in second quarter of 2016

Eastern Kentucky dropped 6.1%; Western Kentucky 7.9%

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Aug. 2, 2016) — The number of coal jobs in Kentucky dropped by 6.9 percent during the second quarter of 2016, to a total of 6,465, the lowest total since 1898, according to a report released Monday by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet. The second quarter total followed a first quarter drop of 21.6 percent.

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Black line is state total, blue line is Eastern Kentucky, red line is Western Kentucky.

Coal jobs in Eastern Kentucky dropped by 6.1 percent in the second quarter, from 4,009 to 3,764. Western Kentucky jobs dropped from 2,932 to 2,701, or 7.9 percent. Overall, the number of Kentucky coal jobs dropped from 6,941 to 6,465. In 2011, Kentucky had 18,069 coal jobs, with 13,697 in Eastern Kentucky and 4,390 in Western Kentucky.

The report states, “Preliminary data indicate that total coal production at Kentucky mines declined by 13.1 percent during the second quarter of 2016 to 9.9 million tons. Coal production at surface mines decreased by 20.9 percent during the second quarter of 2016 and accounted for 23 percent of total Kentucky production.”

“During the second quarter of 2016, underground mines in Kentucky produced 7.6 million tons, a reduction of 10.5 percent from the first quarter of 2016 and accounted for 77 percent of production,” states the report.

“Western Kentucky coal mines decreased production by 12.3 percent, to produce 5.9 million tons for the quarter,” states the report. “Eastern Kentucky mines decreased production by 14.3 percent to produce 3.9 million tons. The rate of Kentucky coal production in 2016 is the lowest statewide production rate since 1934 and the lowest in eastern Kentucky since 1915.”

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Gray line is total, blue line is underground mines, green line is surface mines.

While most Kentucky counties saw a reduction in coal production, five Eastern Kentucky counties—Harlan, Whitley, Letcher, Johnson and Breathitt—saw increases in production.

Harlan increased by 3.8 percent, Whitley by 117.6 percent, Letcher by 50.8 percent, Johnson by 21.6 percent and Breathitt by 32.9 percent.

Muhlenberg (14.5 percent) and McLean (4.3 percent) counties in Western Kentucky saw increases in production, while Union, Ohio, Webster, Hopkins and Daviess had losses.

The report states, “Hopkins County had the largest losses in both production and employment in Western Kentucky during the second quarter. Coal production fell by 33.1 percent to 920,284 tons, while employment dropped by 117 people. “

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