Kentucky coal miners were thrilled to hear then-candidate Donald Trump promise they would be back to work if he became president as they cast votes for him in the 2016 election — but now, two years later, the state has even fewer coal jobs than it did before.
Coal employment averaged 6,550 in Kentucky in the first quarter of 2017 when Trump was sworn in, according to the state Energy and Environment Cabinet.
The estimated average in the July-through-September quarter this year was 6,381, [according to a cabinet report released this week](
Of those jobs, 3,851 were in Eastern Kentucky and 2,530 were in the state’s western coalfield. Both regions had fewer jobs than in early 2017.
Though the number of coal jobs in the state tends to fluctuate — there have been times during Trump’s presidency that numbers were higher — overall, the state has not seen the kind of steady increase it hoped Trump’s policies might bring.
“It ain’t happened like they said it would,” said Martin County Judge-Executive Kelly Callaham.
Callaham said one mine has recently hired some people in the county. Employment in the most recent quarter stood at 61, compared to more than 200 in early 2017, according to state records.
Still, some believe job losses in the coal mining industry would have been more severe had Trump not been elected:
“We feel that the blood-letting that was happening as recently as 2016 has ceased,” said Tyler White, president of the Kentucky Coal Association. “We’re doing a lot better.”
That has put the industry on a more even keel and boosted optimism, White said.