Trump’s Coal Revival Vow Emboldens Miners to Shun Career Change – by Daniel Flatley (July 20, 2017)

Retraining reticence for in-demand health care jobs is part economic and part cultural

West Virginia is so strongly associated with coal that the state flag features a miner with pickax over his shoulder. A nurse with a stethoscope might be more fitting.

Last year, WVU Medicine, a network of hospitals under the state’s flagship public university, dethroned Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as the top employer. What’s more, six out of the top 10 employers in the state were hospitals and health-care providers. Murray American Energy Inc., a large coal company operating in the region, dropped to 15th place from sixth.

That same story is told another way with labor-market data. Mining jobs in the state fell by 25 percent between 2012 and 2016. At the same time, West Virginia health-care jobs have been mushrooming, and account for one of every five private-sector positions in the state, according to the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, a research group.

One might assume that job growth in health care is cushioning the blow from coal mining, right? For now, that isn’t happening. West Virginia overwhelmingly voted in last year’s election for President Donald Trump, who has pledged to cut regulation to reawaken the coal industry and overhaul health care by dismantling Obamacare. The signals from Washington could factor into miners’ decisions to retrain for another profession, outside of healthcare, or hold tight for the promised coal revival.

The United Mine Workers of America, the nation’s principal coal-mining union, sponsors career training in the state for laid-off workers. Since 2012, the UMWA has enrolled more than 2,000 West Virginians, according to Brett Dillon, a program manager.

For the rest of this article: