CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia lost nearly 1,300 coal mining jobs in the second quarter as industry battles competition from other regions and low natural gas prices.
The Charleston Gazette says Mine Safety and Health Administration figures show a 5 percent decline, although coal still employs 23,300 people.
Among the struggling producers are Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources and St. Louis-based Patriot Coal. The latter declared bankruptcy.
But statewide employment remains about the same as four years ago, at the end of President George W. Bush's term.
And it's up more than 8 percent, or nearly 1,800 jobs, since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency started to crack down on mountaintop removal mining.
Still, Bill Raney of the West Virginia Coal Association says he worries the layoffs are part of a new downward trend.
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