Magoffin dubbed one of the “worst places to live”

Printer-friendly versionPDF version

SALYERSVILLE - Last week Magoffin hit national news, ranking as one of the "hardest places to live in the  U.S." by "The New York Times."

In an article entitled "What's the Matter With Eastern Kentucky?" by Annie Lowrey , with contributions from Alan Flippen, published on June 26, Lowrey crunches the numbers compiled by "The Upshot," a news and data-analysis branch of "The Times." According to their statistics, Magoffin County ranks as 3,127 out of 3,135 counties in America.

With a median income of $25,461, 9.6 percent of the population has a college  education. Unemployment at the time the figures were collected was 16.5 percent, disability was at 9.6 percent, and 45 percent of Magoffin Countians were recorded as being obese. According to "The Times'" figures, life expectancy is 73.7 years, roughly 5 years less than the national average.

Granted, Magoffin fared better than some Eastern Kentucky counties, with Clay County coming in dead last with a median income of $22,296, 7.4 percent college educated, 12.7 percent unemployment, 11.7 percent disability, 45 percent obesity and a life expectancy of 71.4 years. Breathitt, Jackson, Lee and Leslie Counties were all listed in the bottom 10, as well, however a large portion of Kentucky in general was color-coated in orange in "The Times'" graphic, reiterating that most of Kentucky is doing worse than most other counties in the country. The entire eastern end of the state is colored bright orange - the worst rating possible.

The article also analyzes how Eastern Kentucky counties have actually declined over the years, despite trillions of federal dollars being sunk into them to boost and aid the local economies. Between the decline in the coal industry and lack of industries wanting to locate to the rural counties of Eastern Kentucky, Lowrey speculates that one of economists' answers is "it would be better to help the people than the place - in some cases, helping people leave the place." Otherwise, education initiatives may be the best use of the federal tax dollars, one source told "The Times," however, that could result in more people moving away, also. 

To weigh in on the article, see the "People Poll" question on page A3. The full article from "The New York Times" can be viewed at