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Eastern Kentucky Workforce Has Dropped 20% In Past Decade

One East Kentucky

A new study of eastern Kentucky workers says the labor force has declined by 20 percent over the past 10 years as people have stopped looking for work after being stymied by their lack of education and a struggling coal industry.

The survey conducted by Boyette Strategic Advisors and sponsored by the nonprofit One East Kentucky surveyed more than 500 workers and 200 employers in 27 eastern Kentucky counties over the past few months.

Kay Stebbins, one of the study's authors, said a big problem is out-of-work coal miners have the experience without the education, which hurts them when they apply for new jobs. She said workers are often reluctant to participate in training or education programs because they are expensive and don't guarantee a job at the end of the process.