For 17 years, Scott Pearce worked as a mechanic here in the Powder River Basin, a Saudi Arabia of Western coal deposits. But about a week ago, he became a casualty of the declining local economy, one of nearly 500 people laid off from the Black Thunder and North Antelope Rochelle mines. It was among the latest and worst rounds of job losses to hit Wyoming.
Elsewhere, the American economy is posting steady gains and adding jobs. But here in the nation’s least populated state, the recession is returning.
Hard times have come crashing back on energy-reliant towns like this one in northern Wyoming, where lives and fortunes hinge on the coal, oil and gas buried beneath the rolling plains.
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