Coal is King in West Virginia, right? But you won’t believe just how many coal mining jobs we’ve lost since 1948.

According to a 2013 report from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, the number of coal mining jobs in the state peaked 1948 at 131,700. Today, West Virginia Public Broadcasting says there are less than 18,000 miners left.

Take a look at the stunning drop:


Why the drop? That report from the WV Center for Budget and Policy blames automation which allowed companies to pump out more coal with less workers, not to mention the state’s tax policy:

Ironically, misguided tax-incentive policies enacted in the 1980s contributed to the problem as some coal companies took advantage of “super tax credits” to add machinery and eliminate jobs. Market forces played a role as well. The spike in coal prices of the 1970s dropped as supplies increased, in what came to be known as the “oil glut” of the 1980s.

If ever there was a war on coal, or more specifically on coal miners, it took place in the 1980s. And the miners lost.

WVPBS noted in their report this week that since the end of 2011, the state has lost almost 7,000 mining jobs.