Half of working-age residents in Appalachia can’t find jobs

State Rep. John Short, right, chats with a customer in his gun shop in Hindman, Ky., where the faltering coal industry has meant widespread job losses. (Kristen Lowry\Kentucky Today)

State Rep. John Short, right, chats with a customer in his gun shop in Hindman, Ky., where the faltering coal industry has meant widespread job losses. (Kristen Lowry\Kentucky Today)

More than half of working age residents in Kentucky’s coalfield counties have been without jobs in recent years, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics that measure actual unemployment.

John Short, a state representative from Hindman, said he sees no signs that the economy is improving in the heart of Kentucky’s coal-mining region.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Workforce Development found in a review of census data that fewer than 40 percent of Knott County residents ages 16 and up had jobs between 2009 and 2013, revealing that the employment drought is affecting not only adults but also their teenage children who, in other regions, have little trouble finding part-time positions.

You can read the rest of Kristen Lowry’s first story in a three-part series on the eastern Kentucky economy and the fate of coal on Kentucky Today.

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