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Ten Eastern Kentucky counties lead state in unemployment

By: Tanner Hesterberg Email
By: Tanner Hesterberg Email

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - The top 10 Kentucky counties for unemployment are all in Eastern Kentucky.

The state's jobless rate decreased slightly in November, but unemployment is still prevalent in coal-producing counties, according to statistics released Thursday by the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training.

"This number is definitely due to the effect of the coal mines being shut down," said Perry County Judge Executive Denny Ray Noble, whose county logged a jobless rate of 12.8 percent. "Every time you lose a miner, you lose an estimated three more jobs."

Leslie County posted the state's highest unemployment rate last month at 16.4 percent.

Lonnie Hendrix, the mayor of the Leslie County seat of Hyden, said, "I can see Main Street from my office window. I look up when I hear a coal truck. And that's unusual, because we were used to so many coal trucks you never even heard them. But now it's so odd for a coal truck to come by that you turn around and listen at the noise."

The county with the second highest jobless rate is Magoffin County, followed by Harlan, Letcher and Knott Counties.

Bell, McCreary, Jackson, Perry and Clay Counties round out the top 10.

"There's not been enough time for the people to really realize what's going to happen," Hendrix said. "It's going to be very bad. People are going to lose their homes, their automobiles."

But some leaders are optimistic rebound from the coal industry will help the region in the coming months.

"In the past, coal has always been up and down," Noble said. "This is the worst that we've ever seen. I really look for it to bounce back in the next year or two years."

The jobless rate for the whole state in November was 7.7 percent, compared to 7.4 percent for the same period in 2012.

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