CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - New government data shows employment in the Appalachian mining industry is at a 14-year high.
The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration says the total number of coal jobs nationwide is at its highest level since 1996, with 90,354 jobs in 2011.
The Charleston Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/tuBItj) that in Appalachia, the 59,059 jobs reported were the most since 1997. In miner-heavy West Virginia, coal employment reached its highest level since 1992, with 23,353 jobs.
Growth in employment in the coal industry comes despite increased scrutiny and regulatory changes aimed at reduce the environmental impacts of mining.
However, the current increase in jobs comes amid government projections that coal production in central Appalachia will decline rapidly through the rest of the decade.