Appalachia Grasps for Hope as Coal Loses its Grip

Associated Press, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pune Mirror, - The seams of coal in some McDowell County mines are so thin that workers can barely squeeze them down. Eddie Asbury, 66, owns the mines, but still does everything himself. In order to keep business operating with such a paltry amount of coal, Asbury has discarded the shiny, new multimillion-dollar mining machines. His equipment is second-hand stuff that he himself repairs and refurbishes. "It's how we survive," says Asbury, a miner since 1971. Read

Even coal is barely surviving in Central Appalachia — and coal is about the only commodity that the place has.

West Virginia is the only state in the US where more than half of all adults are unemployed. It is tied with Kentucky for the highest percentage of residents collecting disability payments from Social Security. And the death rate among working-age adults is the highest in the nation, 55 per cent higher the national average. And coal, the one source for decent-paying work, is drying up.

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