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State's Overall Unemployment Continues to Fall, Coal Jobs Remain Stagnant

Austin Ramsey, WKMS

As Kentucky's overall unemployment rate continues to fall, employment in the coal mining industry is somewhat stagnant. The state's jobless rate for February came in at 5.2 percent, the lowest since the fall of 2004. 

Officials with the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet say the mining and logging sector lost 100 jobs last month. Kentucky Coal Mining Association President Bill Bissett. "For the past five quarters that production and employment has remained relatively flat. We haven't gained jobs, but we haven't lost any more jobs. We haven't had those large number of layoffs that we were seeing," said Bissett. 

Bissett says employment in Kentucky's eastern and western coalfields stands at about 12,000. That compares with 18,000 to 19,000 just three to four years ago. Bissett says some coal companies in eastern Kentucky are working to modify their business plans. "One trend we are seeing which is in eastern Kentucky, more of a privately owned company that is smaller and more nimble. The companies may not have the concerns of the how the Australian coal market does. They're a much smaller footprint company," added Bissett. 

This news about unemployment in many business sectors comes as President Obama Thursday signed an executive order that sets new goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions of federal agencies.

Stu Johnson is a reporter/producer at WEKU in Lexington, Kentucky.
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