Coal and Kentucky's Economy
- Over the past 100 years, more than 7 billion tons of
coal have been mined and sold from Kentucky. If the coal
industry created growth in Kentucky’s economy, then
the state and the mining communities of Eastern Kentucky
should already be enormously wealthy. 
- Just in the last 10 years, coal mining jobs have decreased
across Kentucky by 41%, while coal production in Kentucky
only decreased by a modest 17.8%.  And over the past
20 years coal jobs in Kentucky have dropped by almost 67%
while coal production has only shown a 12% decline. Even
when coal production increased by about 30,000 tons during
the 1990s, jobs still decreased by 15,000 people. Right
now in Kentucky there are less than 13,000 people employed
as miners. 
- Not only are coal jobs decreasing in Kentucky, but the
majority of the coal being mined is coming from non-Union
mines. In 2000, 91% of Kentucky’s coal production
was mined by non-Union labor. 86% of the coal mined underground
came from non-Union labor and 99% of the coal mined on surface
mines came from non-Union labor. 
- More jobs were lost over the last 10 years in Kentucky
on surface mines than on underground mines.  Surface
miners use enormous machines to scrape off the tops of mountains
to get to the coal; these machines replace a lot of human
labor. Even if coal production increased in the future,
employment will only be offered to highly-skilled individuals
who already know how to use the computer programs and equipment.
- The biggest coal producing counties of Kentucky have the
highest poverty rates, highest child poverty rates, lowest
median income, and lowest high school graduation rate than
any of the other counties in Kentucky. Even neighboring
counties that don’t have significant mining or access
to an interstate road rank better on census data. 
The flat land that is left behind by surface mining is
supposed to be a source of economic development for Kentucky.
However, the land is usually too isolated and too unstable
to build anything on it. Many of the buildings that have
been constructed on these sites have already starting sinking
and subsiding. There are already thousands of acres of flat
reclaimed strip mine land in Eastern Kentucky, but there
is still no economic development.
It seems pretty clear that the coal industry is NOT
good for Kentucky’s economy. It has not brought economic
development or wealth to the people of Eastern Kentucky. At
the same time, a more grassroots, local economy has been unable
to develop in coal counties because the coal industry has
had so much control over the use of land, money, and politics
in that area.
 “The Canary Project: Organizing for a Better Future
Beyond Coal.” Kentuckians For the Commonwealth, 4/2004
 US Department of Energy. EIA website, Table 1 & 40.
 Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals and the US
Department of Energy, 1980-2000.
 US Department of Energy. EIA website, Table 11. 2000.
 US Department of Energy. EIA website, Table 41 &
42. 1991-2000. (www.eia.doe.gov)
 Census data, cited in “The Canary Project.”
Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, 4/2003.
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