Eastern Ky. job program receives $11 million grant to help laid-off coal miners

The federal government has awarded an additional $11 million to an Eastern Kentucky job program to help laid-off coal miners, U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers announced Friday.

The grant is from the Department of Labor to the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program for its project called Hiring Our Miners Everyday, or H.O.M.E.

The program provides training, apprenticeships and other services to laid-off coal miners, their spouses and companies that hire them.

The employment program received an initial grant from the Department of Labor to start the program in 2013. If EKCEP meets all the goals outlined in the grant, funding for the project will ultimately total $28.5 million, according to EKCEP.

Coal jobs have plunged in Eastern Kentucky because of a combination of factors, including federal environmental regulations and competition from cheap natural gas.

Estimated coal employment in Eastern Kentucky was 3,653 last fall, down from an average of 13,579 in 2011, according to the state Energy and Environment Cabinet.

“This award will ensure that our former miners will have access to the assistance they need during a critical time in their lives,” Rogers said of the new grant.