The timing of this most recent round of layoffs at PBS Coals, Inc. couldn't be worse, and the company knows it.
"This has been extremely difficult for us. We are the largest private company in Somerset County and we are extremely proud of our position in the community. We waited as long as we could to make this decision and it is very difficult for us to have to make it now," Lori Mason of PBS Coals says.
PBS Coals idled a pair of mines, but the layoffs came from throughout the company, not just workers on the ground.
The company blames the cuts on trends both nationally and abroad.
"The coal market has continued to decline and we really have to match our production with demand," Mason says.
The layoffs affect more than the 138 workers who were let go today. The hit is just another for a community and a region that has struggled to maintain jobs.
"You do the math and you take number of dollars out of the economy which is just direct miner employees that doesn't include the roughly 3 and a half other jobs for every mining job, Somerset County Chamber of Commerce member Sean Isgan says.
And local businesses have seen the hit from the lack of funds.
"You talk to the local jewelry store and they're affected by this. The local plants that supply products to the mining industry are seeing a downturn," Isgan says.
Neither the Somerest County Chamber of Commerce or PBS Coals have an answer for how to turn around the coal industry, but they feel they aren't getting any help from the federal level.
"We're faced wtih an administration that has made the decision unfortunately that coal isn't going to be a player eventhough it's the cheapest for of electricity," Isgan says.
PBS Coals says they do not see any more cuts on the horizon and they still are carrying around 600 employees.
Workers who spoke to WTAJ News said they were concerned about their future, but hoped the market starts to turn around soon.