Obama administration efforts to train laid-off coal miners and their spouses for the “jobs of the future” are turning out to be somewhat of a double-edged sword.
A new report by the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank found some coal miners have successfully gotten jobs in other industries, but the report also hints that those re-employed miners are making way less than before.
The Cleveland Fed reported an electrical lineman program at Hazard Community and Technical College had successfully retrained 124 laid-off miners by fall 2015. That program had a job placement rate of 90 percent, but it had a couple drawbacks.
“Many graduates travel outside the region for work during the week and return on the weekends. Demand for the electrical lineman program is high (there is a two-semester waiting list) because students exiting the program earn, on average, $20 per hour,” the Cleveland Fed reported.
A $20 an hour wage comes out to a $41,600 annual salary. That’s a little over half the average $72,000 a year salary of Kentucky coal miners.
The U.S. Labor Department has spent $14 million to the Hiring Our Miners Everyday, or HOME, program in Eastern Kentucky where thousands of coal miners have lost their jobs, in part, due to increasing federal energy regulations.