Powering a Nation

A Project of the UNC School of Media and Journalism

BELOW THE SURFACE: From Coal Towns to Ghost Towns

West Virginia is the leading producer of coal in Appalachia, but it ranks 49th in the nation in per capita income. What’s going on?


Animation and design by Adrienne Wollman
Camera by Catherine Orr and Catherine Spangler
Research by Jeff Mittelstadt, Hely Olivares and Catherine Orr
Narration by Catherine Orr


Oil prices
Energy Information Administration

Coal prices
Energy Information Administration

Per capita income
U.S. Census Bureau

Poverty U.S. Census Bureau
Hendryx, Michael. Education and Jobs, Jobs and Education: A Proposal for funding economic redevelopment in Central Appalachia. Department of Community Medicine, West Virginia University.

Coal production
Energy Information Administration (1)
Energy Information Administration (2)
Energy Information Administration (PDF 3)

Contributions to West Virginia economy
State of West Virginia (PDF 1)
State of West Virginia (PDF 2)

The economic contributions of U.S. mining in 2008
PricewaterhouseCoopers for the National Mining Association (PDF)

Epstein, Paul R., et al. “Full cost accounting for the life cycle of coal.” Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1219 (2011), 73-98.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (1)
Bureau of Labor Statistics (2)

Impacts of mono-economy in Appalachia
Wood, Lawrence E. Trends in National and Regional Economic Distress: 1960-2000. College of Communication, Ohio University. Prepared for the Appalachian Regional Commission. April, 2005.


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