Laid off Arch Coal miners begin hard task of looking for work

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Hundreds of eastern Kentucky miners who got layoff notices from Arch Coal this week are facing bleak prospects as they look for work in a region plagued by high unemployment.

Knott County Judge-Executive Randy Thompson says most of the available jobs in his county pay minimum wage or slightly higher, amounting to a huge pay cut for miners accustomed to making as much as $70,000 a year.

Thompson worries about an exodus of people from the region as mining jobs dwindle.

Jeff Whitehead, who heads a nonprofit group that matches employers with available help, says about 1,500 coal miners have been laid off in his 23-county region of eastern Kentucky this year. He says the retraining opportunities have included working as truck drivers and telecommunications linemen as well as in the health-care industry.

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