The Department of Labor is sending more than $5 million to Eastern Kentucky to help laid-off coal miners and their families. $5,192,500, to be exact.
The federal government announced the emergency grant today. In a press release, the agency said the money would go to providing re-training for miners and their spouses.
“When families lose their entire source of income, they often need more than one job to make ends meet,” said acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris. “This grant from the Labor Department will help prepare both displaced miners and their spouses for new employment in eastern Kentucky’s growing industries.”
This grant, awarded to the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program Inc., will provide eligible laid off miners and spouses with training and other services they need to compete for employment in other industries throughout the area, such as business services, construction and skill trades, energy creation and transmission, and health care.
The money could definitely help Eastern Kentucky families who have been affected by all of the recent coal layoffs—in the past year, more than a thousand miners in the region have lost their jobs. But it will be interesting to see what kind and quality of retraining the money provides. One of the reasons that coal mining layoffs hit the region so hard is because there are so few other industries. Retraining will help some people, but it’s hard to think of an industry—or a few industries—that are in need of enough employees to absorb all of those laid-off workers.
The federal government is releasing $3.7 of that grant money immediately, and will send the rest if there’s a continued need for assistance.