Environment

In 2014, only 0.5 percent of Kentucky workers were employed in coal mines, coal preparation plants and mine offices. The latest annual report from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet counts 11,586 coal workers in the state, though the most recent quarterly report actually shows about 2,000 fewer than that.

The 2014 Kentucky Coal Facts breaks down employment by county — both by jobs and by the percentage of the county’s workforce those jobs represent. And that data, combined with data from the 1989 version of the report, show how the job losses have affected individual counties. They also offer a look at the role the industry plays in a county’s employment landscape.

Here are the key takeaways:

• Some counties — like Pike, Perry, Harlan, Martin, Floyd, Knott and Letcher — have lost more than 1,000 coal miners each in the past quarter-century. Pike has lost 3,723 coal jobs in that time period. Harlan: 2,064.

• The most coal jobs — as well as the biggest job losses — were in Eastern Kentucky. But in Western Kentucky, Union, Hopkins and Muhlenberg counties all recorded pretty significant drops in employment, ranging from 660 to 786 jobs.

• One county has a lot more coal jobs today than it did in 1988: Ohio County. There’s been a gain of 464 jobs from 1988 to 2014, largely because of several Armstrong Coal mines. An industry that employed 5.7 percent of Ohio County’s workforce in 1988 now makes up 11 percent.

• In almost every county, coal jobs employ a much smaller percentage of the workforce than they did in 1988. More than 60 percent of Martin County workers were employed by the coal industry in 1988. Today, only 18 percent are.

Click on the county for the jobs data:

The report also estimates the multiplier effect of coal mining jobs is smaller than the industry has always touted: It says about 1.2 jobs are created for each coal job. At the end of 2014, the report calculates the Kentucky coal industry’s total impact on employment was about 24,616 jobs.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.