As the national debate about coal jobs continues, many workers left the industry and trained for new jobs. But some workers held on, and it could pay off, as one small Kentucky city begins hiring again.
The City of Hazard, located in eastern Kentucky, is one of the top 3 coal-producing areas within the state. It was also hit hardest by the gradual collapse of the coal industry.
“I mean, it’s just tearing everything apart,” says Hazard Mayor Jimmy Lindon.
The mayor has called Hazard home his entire life, and he’s seen what coal cutbacks have done to his neighbors.
In 2016, coal jobs in Hazard tanked to the lowest they've been in over a century. Right now, unemployment sits at 7.3 percent, which is twice the national average.
Six years ago, the Hazard mine employed over 600 people. But a few years ago, that number dramatically dropped. Massive layoffs cut the staff by two thirds, to under 200 people.
However, it could be changing for the better. The coal mine is hiring.
“We probably got 100 applications in the first seven working days,” says hiring manager Teresa Blair.
Right now, there are 120 open positions for the mine.
“It's wonderful to be able to put people back to work,” says Blair.
For a city hit hard by layoffs, it’s a big hope.
“When you care about people, and you care about your little coal community and you see it go down so far and then to see it making its way back, gives you some hope,” says Blair.