President Obama may visiting a few key states and touting the lowest unemployment rate since he took office, but here in Perry County we’re experience the highest rate of joblessness since 1995, according to the Office of Employment and Training in Frankfort.
That year, when Bill Clinton was in the midst of his first term in office, the local rates of unemployment topped 13 percent. Though Perry County has experienced double digits several times since then, it wasn’t until this summer that we saw an increase to 13 percent.
So, while President Obama is claiming an economic turnaround under his watch, here in Eastern Kentucky we’re going in exactly the opposite direction. But because in presidential elections Kentucky is a solidly red state, we’re getting absolutely no attention, unlike our neighbor to the north.
Like Kentucky, Ohio does have a coal mining industry, but unlike Kentucky less than 1 percent of the state’s GDP comes from the coal industry, and around 2,500 total jobs come from coal mining. But Ohio is a swing state, so the plight of their coal industry is getting lots of play in the election. Meanwhile, here in Kentucky, our miners are standing in unemployment lines, attending job fairs, or moving elsewhere looking for work.
The simple fact is that President Obama has done next to nothing for the economy of the Appalachian region. In this way he has behaved much like his predecessor, but his presidency was supposed to be about change. His first term was supposed to be about bringing people together to find common ground and solutions.
In short, that may be happening elsewhere, but in Eastern Kentucky, like always, it isn’t happening here under President Obama’s leadership. He can likely count on his hand the number of times he’s visited Kentucky.
So as the president talks about the country’s economic recovery, here in Eastern Kentucky it seems much more like a recession that won’t stop receding.
— The Hazard Herald