As reported by the Charleston Gazette and Mail, the most recent figures reported by coal companies to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) shows that West Virginia’s coal employment dropped to about 22,500 during the period from July to September.

The numbers show the continued impacts of coalfield layoffs fueled by a variety of factors but also indicate mining employment remains at higher levels than when the Obama administration began a series of regulatory actions to reduce coal’s environmental impacts.

Nationwide, coal employment dropped 5% during the quarter but remained higher than at the start of the recession in 2007 and then when a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency crackdown on strip mining permits began in early 2009.