Kentucky Mines Misery
Along Kentucky’s jagged eastern edge the cheapest, easiest coal to mine was carved out decades ago, and now mining companies are shedding workers and seeking bankruptcy protection.
More from the Bloomberg News report by Mark Drajem:
In Harlan County, the setting of epic battles between mine owners and union organizers in the last century, the food bank is short of donations and a downtown partnership is taking bids not for new tenants but for companies that can tear down vacant storefronts.
Of the 87 licensed mines in the county, just 27 are active, according to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. Harlan produced 4.6 million tons of coal last year, the lowest total since 1920. The county shed more than half its population in the past six decades, and locals say one of the only booming local businesses is renting U-Haul trucks for those fleeing.
Even before this latest downturn Harlan was categorized as a distressed county by the U.S. Census Bureau, with a median income of $26,758. Subtract the Social Security payments, government disability checks and unemployment insurance and that total drops to $15,831, about half the national average.
Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg
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